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Newbury venue rammed for Swedish sisters with a BIG noise

BASKERY, support by HendrickxRoy, at ACE Space, Newbury, on Friday, November 17

Review by JONATHAN ROSCOE, Shire Folk

The last time I saw Swedish sisters Greta, Stella, and Sunniva Bondesson, better known as Baskery, was in September when they were blowing the roof off the main stage at Wallingford’s Bunkfest.

Baskery Pic: Red Water Images
Baskery Pic: Red Water Images

My concern when I saw they were playing in the more confined space of Newbury’s ACE Space, was would the venue survive the sonic onslaught? The answer is: yes, but only just.

Their five studio long-players are excellent, but perhaps don’t really capture their powerhouse live performances. For that I’d recommend seeking out last year’s Most Wanted Vol 1 direct from the band. Or go and see them live, which is what a sold out ACE Space audience did on a less than clement Friday evening in November.

Theirs is a persuasive mix of the crystalline harmonies of fellow Swedes First Aid Kit with the kick-ass blues of American roots rockers, the Lovell sisters’ Larkin Poe. Plus, a healthy helping of Neil Young for good measure. There’s always at least one Young song in the set list and tonight it was Heart of Gold.

HendrickxRoy Pic: Red Water Images
HendrickxRoy Pic: Red Water Images

But I’m getting ahead of myself. First, I caught the last few songs from local heroes and open mic night veterans HendrickxRoy. A decent mix of well-crafted originals (Jericho Blues particularly stood out) and adroit covers, such as Alison Moyet’s All Cried Out, topped by Maia Hendrickx’s beautiful voice, were well received.

Apparently, it was their first gig in 18 months, so if they were a little rusty, nobody in the ACE Space crowd cared.

And so onto the main event. For a trio, Baskery bring with them a lot of kit. There may only be three of them, but they make a BIG noise. Their set-up may look like just double bass, guitar, banjo, and kickdrum, but when they get started, as on the ‘Stockholm blues” of opening song Here to Pay My Dues, they raise the roof with raucous joy. There are quieter moments, such as Tendencies about the damage of alcoholism and addiction, and 17th century drinking song Bort allt vad oro gor is a masterclass in draw-dropping sibling harmonies. Mainly, though, it’s the country soul of Wolf Hook and Miss America from new album V:End of the Bloodline, which is as tight as Greta’s kickdrum, and the glam rock glitterbeat and banjo punk of crowd-pleasers like Throw a Bone, Nobody Nice, and the main set closer, Haunt You, which sees a triumphant Sunniva standing atop the drum.

It may have taken Stephen Ottner 10 years to get Baskery to ACE Space, but on this evidence let’s hope we don’t have to wait that long before we see them in Newbury again.

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