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The Citadel, St. Helens, 25 March 2006
According to the details printed on the tickets, Cara Dillon, with no advertised support act, was due on stage at 8pm. So after watching a couple of blokes walking around a well furnished stage, we presumed that a young girl doing a line check on an acoustic guitar was just one of the road crew. Even when she stood up and bashfully uttered words to the fact that she wasn't Cara Dillon, it still didn't seem to prove that our intial thoughts were wrong.
But she then opened up with a line "You're 72.8% water..." our ears pricked up. Not only did she sing well but her guitar playing was excellent. This articulate lyricist hails from Aberdeen and she now lives in London. Half way through her set, I was already hooked and just as I was thinking about buying CDs from the suitcase after the show she announced that she'd actually released an EP-CD but forgot to bring them with her.
She closed by announcing the impending arrival of Cara and her 6-man backing band and apologised unfoundedly for just having an acoustic guitar. Especially as she played as though she'd been born with it.
I make a point of supporting the support acts at most of the gigs which I attend. There were definitely no exceptions here. So please take note of this young lady and I hope it's not too long before she tours (with CDs to hand) on her own.
Her name : KAT FLINT
After a short interval, Cara and her band arrived on stage. Cara was positioned centre front and she was encircled by 6 band members. Their names I didn't take note of, but reading from left to right as we saw them were, Sam Lakeman, Cara's husband, on keyboards. just behind him was an acoustic guitar/mandolin player. The drummer was directly behind Cara. He looked remarkably like Chas (from Chas 'n' Dave). Back right was a lead guitarist who had hands the size of dinnerplates.
An amazing player (and backing vocalist) nonetheless. To his left (far back right as we saw it) was a bass guitarist and occasional double bass player. Front right was the 'wind section' He opened on flute and occasionally played accordian, but for quite a few numbers he played Uillean pipes. A brilliant instrument - similar to bagpipes but easier on the ear.
As a rule, I try compile a setlist. But I bought my tickets for this gig ages ago and guess where we were sat.
The Citadel is a cozy theatre. The stage is about the same depth as the auditorium.
If I stuck my foot out from where I was sitting I could have kicked the mike stand over. So if I got my notepad out and scribbled the songs down I probably would have put her off. And besides, she posted the setlist for her tour on her webpage. (I'll list that one later). There was a slight change in the order and there were a couple of deviations. Also, as I was sat in the best seat in the house, I had no desire to write a list.
Cara is primarily considered to be a folk singer but I believe that is just a convenient pigeon hole for those who like to label people. She does, however, have many "trad arrs" in her repertoire. Indeed she opened the show with "She Moved Through The Fair". But there is more to her (and her band) than folk alone.
The written word cannot properly describe her sound. There are some songs which take your heart & mind by the hand and lead them on a journey into that nice place and leave you there. Cara's angelic voice weaves through the instrumental crescendos with 'ooohs' and 'aaahs' at the end of mystic stories. A fine example of these journeys of the mind is Broken Bridges off her Sweet Liberty album.
Cara has 3 albums on release at the moment, namely, her eponymous debut album, Sweet Liberty and After the Morning. All three were well represented and songs from her latest album, After The Morning, were very well arranged, presented and received.
I've no intention of describing every song, but there are these few songs which really merit a mention.
October Winds was written as a tribute to her late father. This song hit me on first hearing. It can be found on her latest album. It's written by Cara and Sam and it's chorus has a line that says(presumably) her father, will be missed when the October Winds begin to blow. There is a brilliant piano/keyboard piece in the middle and it closes with "And I'm dreaming about my father, safe in my heart for evermore."
Never in a Million Years is her current single and it is getting regular airplay on BBC R2. So just batter your local radio station with e-mails and demand that they play it.
Husband Sam has been busy over the past year or so. He's learned to play the guitar. And to prove how good he has become, he took a break from the keyboards and joined Cara and the lead guitarist at the front of the stage for Grace (I think it was that one).
Needless to say the audience were attentive and appreciative throughout the 1 and half hour performance. They called her back for an encore which began with a mental blank and ensuing fits of laughter. And fair play to her coming back from it all to deliver The Emigrant's Farewell with due respect and reverence.
Her on tour setlist follows. There was one noticable omission, Bold Jamie (from After the Morning), which I had wished she had played. The omission just made me feel even more hungry for her next appearance at a nearby venue. In the meantime, I'll just keep spinning CD's CDs !
Review by Graham Ashmore
Cara Dillon's Tour Setlist
Black Is The Colour -
Here's A Health -
She's Like The Swallow -
October Winds -
Donald Of Glencoe -
Where Are You -
some "Tunes" -
Never In A Million Years -
Garden Valley -
There Were Roses -
Bold Jamie -
I Wish You Well -
Green Grows The Laurel
The Emigrants Farewell