Artists: The Jigantics / The Black Feathers
Venue: The Square Tower
Date: 13th December 2014
In the words of the esteemed philosopher, Sir Neville Holder, “It’s Chriiiiistmassssss” – and the Square Roots Christmas present this year to all of our awesome supporters was a show from one of the most exciting bands on the Americana scene, The Jigantics, with support from the equally wonderful duo The Black Feathers.
The Square Tower took on a real festive atmosphere, as the aroma of mulled wine, spices and mince pies drifted around the cosy confines of our 500 year old monument, taking in the Xmas tree, twinkling lights…and Santa’s legs hanging from the chimney! And that lovely warm glow transmitted itself to the audience who were most certainly attentive and appreciative of the superb quality of music on show.
It’s an old cliche (and probably true in this case), but you really could hear a pin drop as Ray Hughes and Sian Chandler (aka The Black Feathers) took to the stage and proceeded to enchant everybody with the combination of their voices, exquisite harmonies, and a set of songs that were akin to a Star Trek laser gun – set to stun!
Take their own “Open Book” as a case in point – a song of infinite depth and beauty, which highlights the consummate skill of their songwriting approach. Not a note is wasted in the lucidity of acoustic guitar. Sian’s voice can be crystal clear and passionate one moment, yet in the next can take on an endearing vulnerability. And when the two hearts beat as one, that is simply a recipe for making the magic happen – and that’s exactly what The Black Feathers did tonight. It was no co-incidence that there was a long queue at the merchandise desk straight after they had finished their short support slot. Rest assured, that they will be back with us at some stage in 2015!
With a 5 piece line up packed full of experienced and gifted musicians, it probably wasn’t too much of a surprise that The Jigantics embraced the atmosphere of the occasion and fed off the fervour of the audience to produce a performance that showcased everything that is great about this band.
Kicking off with a full-on, in-yer-face version of Loudon Wainwright III’s “Swimming Song” with Mark Cole’s effortless squeezebox to the fore, the band storm on through their own interpretation of “Man Of Constant Sorrow” and even get the audience singing along as early as the third song to “Gone” – a song that emphasises the tangible musical dexterity of the complete band, with Marion Fleetwood moving from fiddle to upright bass, and Lyndon Webb shifting from said bass to bouzouki. It’s a refreshing site as likewise Mark Cole moves between mandolin, squeezy things and harmonica, Martin Fitzgibbon proves that drummers do have legs with stints behind the vocal mic, and Rick Edwards cajoles impressive licks from both acoustic and electric guitars. And to top it off, they all sing like a dream!
Taking their foot off the gas momentarily with Marion Fleetwood’s stunning execution of Jane Sibery’s “The Valley” and the twin acoustic-led 4 way vocal fest that is “Out On The Road”, The Jigantics paced their set to perfection, cranking things back up a notch with Steve Earle’s “I Aint Ever Satisfied” and “Bad Liver And A Broken Heart”.
Closing the show with the audience in full voice to “The Weight”, it was plainly evident that the band were fully engaged with the crowd, and clearly enjoying what they were doing and the reaction they were getting back. It was also quite clear that the crowd didn’t want the band to leave the stage either – so their solution was simple! A two song encore comprising the beautiful heartbreak of “Black Mountain Lullaby”, and a storming “Hole In My Head” which saw the band engulfed in bubbles and snow from on high, Mark Cole doing his best Noddy impression, and then leaving the stage to well deserved thunderous applause.
“Wow! What an awesome show tonight! Thank you!” (Emma Paxton)
“Great night!” (Roger Nash, Southdowns Folk Festival Director)
“It was a brilliant show – loved both bands!” (Viv Chatfield)
“Awesome gig tonight at Portsmouth’s Square Tower!” (Loree Westron)
“Great night with The Jigantics!” (Dickie Spurgin)