WE needed an excuse to visit New Greenham Arts, an intimate venue we have missed for some time and urgently deserves everyone’s support. Jamie Smith’s Mabon and their Space Between tour looked like a good enough reason. We are now planning to visit Salisbury City Hall in March and the excuse is that we must see Smith’s exhilarating five-piece band again while they are local(ish).
Smith clearly demonstrates that the Welsh language flows beautifully in song, despite his acknowledged lack of fluency. Luckily, drummer Iolo Whelan has that fluency, as his compositions demonstrated.
There was a wonderfully Celtic feel throughout, without being cheesily over the top with ‘tradition’, largely because much of what was played was self-composed by band members. The gig visited Wales, France, and Spain on an exciting musical trip, largely dominated by Smith’s accordion, although the rest of the group had a chance to shine too, particularly Oliver Wilson-Dickson on the devil’s violin.
The whole was knitted together with some banter – not too much, but with a continuing theme. Personal anecdotes explained some of the pieces; one written to celebrate Smith’s young son Frank and another for some friends’ wedding dance.
It turned out to be Smith’s birthday and, at the end, his mum came forward with a suitably bedecked cake. She had travelled up from Bridgend, which probably has a much more flowing name in Welsh, and the enthusiastic rendition of Happy Birthday was a suitably enthusiastic piece of audience participation.