Where to go for the Gorgeous Yorkshire Christmas “do”. Out on the lash while singing-a-long very loudly to “Fairytale of New York”? Been there, done that a hundred times and it’s getting harder to deal with the hangover. Dinner? Not special enough. Kate Rusby at Christmas concert? Oh yes!
Stephanie and I are big fans of the “Barnsley Nightingale”. Her voice is mesmerising and utterly beautiful. It is also incomparable. She doesn’t sound like anyone else and in a world of wannabes and mega-rich copycat crooners, that is very rare. She has been a star of the folk music scene for years and her Christmas concerts are usually a sell-out. Now we know why. We saw her at her Harrogate gig but she’s at Huddersfield Town Hall on December 17, York Barbican on the 18th, Gateshead Sage on the 20th and Nottingham Royal Concert Hall on the 21st. If you can’t get there or they have sold out, there is exciting news. For the first time ever, the show will be livestreamed from The Sage on December 20th. So you can watch it on a smart TV, laptop, tablet or phone. The cost is just £7.50 and the link is: http://katerusby.com/christmaslive/ The livestream footage will be available to watch on demand using the same weblink from December 23 to January 6. I am planning to share it with my family on Christmas Eve night, which is a great excuse to enjoy it all over again.
The concert is devoted to festive folk songs, many recognisable, including three very different and quite brilliant renditions of “While Shepherds Watched their Flocks” and a version of “Walking in a Winter Wonderland” , as seen here on this You Tube video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e1T0z1F2cTQ . There are others that originated in the pubs of South Yorkshire. As Kate explained: “They were kicked out of churches during the Victorian era for being too happy and exuberant”. The people took them to the ale houses, a tradition that continues. From late November to New Year’s Day on Sunday lunchtimes, the folk of South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire still gather in their local pubs to sing them.
As well as the divine singing and the fantastic musicians – Kate’s husband Damien O’ Kane on guitar, tenor guitar and banjo, Aaron Jones on bouzouki, Nick Cooke on diatonic accordion, Duncan Lyall on double bass and a brass quintet – there was banter in her broad Barnsley accent and lots of laughter, all washed down with Yorkshire Tea from a proper Yorkshire Tea mug. (I will now be washing my tea down in my new Kate Rusby mug – as I can never resist the merchandise and it was only a fiver).
Although she played a tune from her latest album “Life in a Paper Boat”, I wish Kate had played more of my favourite songs – Mocking Bird, Awkward Annie (there’s a long list) but that wasn’t the point of the evening. Still, there’s always her music festival Underneath the Stars in July when the GY team will have its wellies, waterproofs and hip flasks at the ready