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'The wonderful Shee' enthrall Newbury

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The Shee at Arlington Arts,Snelsmore, on Thursday, April 28. Review by Brian Harrington

The Shee generally perform as a six-piece but tonight, for very different reasons, (recent childbirth and a family bereavement) they appeared as a four-piece. As Amy Thatcher (accordion and Korg synth) told me, this necessitated a good deal of rearrangement of songs and some very last minute rehearsals. Just watching and listening to the band one could have been completely unaware of these adaptations as they enthralled the audience with their mix of traditional folk, with strong Celtic influences and thoughtful lyrics. Each member of The Shee is a superb, and successful musician in her own right, while together, as fRoots magazine put it "they have made a considerable mark on the folk landscape".

Tonight was just the second night of their Summer's Promise tour, which had originally been scheduled for 2020. They rose above the two-year pandemic lay-off just as successfully and enthusiastically as they did the personnel issues.

The Shee, picture Brian Harrington
The Shee, picture Brian Harrington
The Shee, picture Brian Harrington
The Shee, picture Brian Harrington

They opened with Tom Paine's Bones, a song about the 18th century English radical author who wrote Rights Of Man and Age Of Reason. It was composed by Graham Moore and featured on his 1995 album of the same name. The Shee recorded it on their first album, A Different Season, in 2008.

They moved on with two instrumental tracks under the heading of Starlings from Murmurations, their album from 2012.

Lady Grey from their 2016 album Continuum is a haunting piece composed for them by the acclaimed Andy Cutting and I loved both Years And Years a brand new song written about the war in Ukraine and Eppie Morrie, a traditional style folk track about a woman refusing marriage.

The Shee, picture Brian Harrington
The Shee, picture Brian Harrington

Summer's Promise celebrates both the changing of the seasons and the 15 years The Shee have been together. We were even treated to some solo clog dancing during the second set, which ended with a well earned encore of Hand Ba' Breakdown.

Whether playing haunting ballads or instrumental jigs The Shee are wonderful.

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