All star folk cast bring festive cheer to arts centre

The Albion Christmas band
The Albion Christmas band
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This festive feast of songs, carols, readings and poems has become a must-see seasonal spectacle for folk fans.

Marshalled still by the evergreen Ashley Hutchings, who founded Fairport Convention and Steeleye Span, this incarnation of the Albion Christmas Band also featured the talents of Kellie While, Simon Care (Edward II) and Simon Nicol (Fairport Convention).

With three guitars and the melodeon playing of Simon Care, it was traditional fare, expertly executed.

The entertainment came in a number of guises.

We had nineteenth century carols in the shape of the Cornish Sans Day Carol and In The Bleak Midwinter, a perfect vehicle for While’s warm, non-too-twee vocals.

There were lively Border Morris numbers, a Hutchings recital of Advent by celebrated Irish poet Brian Coffey and a more recent Albion Band original, Snow Chain.

Particularly enjoyable was a barnstorming sing-along of Past Three O’Clock.

And there was a surprise in the shape of a While-sung cover of Tears for Fears favourite Mad World, only in the manner of the more melancholy Gary Jules take on the tune, which was a number one hit ten years ago.

A finale of Hark The Herald Angels, The First Noel and Seven Joys of Mary was the icing on the Christmas pudding.

In our mid-thirties, my girlfriend and I were easily the youngest members of the audience.

And while we didn’t lap up every single song quite as enthusiastically as the folk purists at Kendal’s Brewery Arts Centre, it would be Bah Humbug indeed to suggest that this was anything but a very pleasant evening’s entertainment.