Folk Fest: Day 1 @ The Bedford 19th July 2012

The London Folk Fest was a 3 day festival taking place at The Bedford. Out of all the 3 evenings there were 5 specific artists I wanted to witness. With the fact there were 3 rooms (Theatre, Ballroom and Tavistock) it was easy to go from one place to another. It is like The Camden Crawl or The Great Escape where you have different artists playing in different places. Over the 3 days I made full use of this festival and visited each room. The artists whom I saw play included Ilona, Emily and the Woods then Megan Henwood in the Theatre. I ended my evening seeing Marcus Foster perform in the Ballroom.

“Hello everybody my name’s Ilona and I’m going to do 4 songs for you today and the 1st song we’re going to do for you is called Walk A Mile. It’s a song we wrote for a special charity ” the Bulgarian Ilona said before singing this incredible song. Walk A Mile like the rest of the set was acoustic pop which sounded amazing. This was a light soothing tune and vocal performance was stunning. I rather liked the up tempo lyrics. “This next song I’m going to do for you is called I Fade and it’s actually a murder ballad” she then said before launching into this tune. I Fade was so different compared to the song which opened the evening. Lyrically this number was extremely dark and you can easily depict what is going on in your head. It was then onto Endlessly and this song was extremely smooth which was delivered to perfection. “Thanks for having me today. I’ll tell you the short story behind the meaning of the song. It consists of titles of most hit singles of the era 1966” Ilona said before the up tempo It’s 1966. I liked the fact that this tune was a fun song and it had a furious paced chorus. As much as I liked the previous 3 songs which had been performed this had to be my favourite.

SET LIST

Walk A Mile
I Fade
Endlessly
It’s 1966

When Ilona had finished her short set it was then onto Emily and the Woods who I was looking forward to see. I last saw these two support Ellen and the Escapades at The Bowery last year.“Hello, you’re all very far away. Come closer” Emily said before opening with Doorstep. Emily and the Woods were Emily Wood and her brother Ben. Doorstep was a brand new song and Emily mainly sung this fantastic tune. The vocals were ever so sweet and sleek as well. It was then onto Steal His Heart which was the 1st single to be taken from last years Eye To Eye EP. The song music video has already notched up 1 million views on YouTube. This was a lovely folky song with some lovely lyrics.  “Look at you all on the outskirts. Don’t be silly we can’t see any of you” Wood then mentioned to the intimate audience trying to urge them to move forward. It was then onto a really new one called First Light. “Every ones so quiet like little sad mice. It’s Thursday. There’s only 1 more day to go. Of the week not like I suddenly had a kind of important message to tell you” Emily said when she was tuning up her guitar. First Light was a solo song and it was just Emily and her guitar. I found this tune to be soft and the vocals were rather distinctive. I for one look forward to hearing the studio version. It was then onto another solo Emily song and this being More Like Me which featured on the Eye To Eye EP. The vocals were soft, subtle and mesmerizing. After some tuning it was onto another new song It Was Right There. Ben joined his sister on guitar for this one. I found this tune to be very strong and it sounded promising. I look forward for the next release by this band. Ending this phenomenal set was new song Traces and this being a powerful folk tune. Traces sounded amazing and had lyrics which were superbly delivered.

SET LIST

Doorstep
Steal His Heart
First Light
More Like Me
It Was Right There
Traces

After a short change over it was then onto the 2009 BBC Radio 2 Young Folk Award Winner and this being Megan Henwood. “Normally I like to about ½ hour before I play I like to go sing a few songs have a bit of a warm up. But I enjoyed Emily’s voice so much that I haven’t really done that. Her voice made me go all wobbly” Henwood said before kicking off the set with What Elliott Said which featured on Making Waves which was released last year. This tune was very folky and rather upbeat. It was in fact lyrically very dark but delivered softly. Megan’s vocal range was extremely hypnotic. “With all this lovely weather we’ve been having I’ve got a bit of a cold and I sound like Barry White. I’m going to sing you a new song if that’s alright. I’m writing the 2nd album as we speak and it seems like the main things are death and anger. So it’s going to be a jolly one” Henwood said before launching into an angry song which was called Dark Debt. This number was fantastic, the vocals were pitch perfect considering Megan had a bit of a cold. Just hearing Dark Debt makes me look forward to the sophomore album. “When Emily played everyone came closer, if I asked do you think people might? I just guilt tripped you all” Megan said before the simple song in the world which is just 3 notes. By this time everyone had moved closer. It was then onto a bit of audience participation and this being a sing along to Shape & Colour. The lyrics were fabulous and I espescially enjoyed the verses where Megan sings about the how clouds resemble white marshmallows or how the sun looks like a jar of honey. “This one’s a bit racy. No swear words though” Henwood said before showcasing another new song and this being Our Little Secret. The folk vibe flowed from this song. The lyrics may be a little racy but it sounded incredible. “I always finish up playing that song feeling a bit dirty with myself. It wasn’t about me though” Megan said after she had finished this brilliant new song. White Lies which was next on the night, may of been bitter but I adored this song. This song was delivered beautifully by Henwood which made it sound gentle and mellowing. The melody was so soothing and the lyrics gelled to it perfectly. “I’m going to give you another new one that’s quite slow. This tune I wrote this before Christmas. I went down to Cornwall and did some writing in a little cottage in the middle of nowhere on a cliff. It was really stormy and I couldn’t go out and get any food for a few days. There was this 1 day where all I had in the house was a tree of broccoli and a bottle red wine which I consumed quite quickly” Megan said before ending with Lead Balloon. “It’s kind of about every relationship I’ve been in” she then said before starting this song. Now I really liked this gentle paced song and it gets me excited for the next album. Megan Henwood is an outstanding singer/ songwriter and she has something extremely special.

SET LIST

What Elliott Said
Dark Debt
Shape & Colour
Our Little Secret
White Lies
Lead Balloon

Signed to Ben Lovett’s Communion Records is Marcus Foster. I decided to see him play his headline set on the basis that Mumford & Sons rate him. The material which was performed was mainly from the new album Nameless Path, a couple from the new EP In This Town and a brand new song.

Now Marcus Foster has extremely distinctive vocals and the folk vibe fully flows from each song. You could compare him to Mumford & Sons. In fact that was the first time I saw him live at the New Wimbledon Theatre last year. A few weeks ago Foster played to a large crowd at Hop Farm now he was playing to a packed Ballroom. Things started with Strange Woods which was taken from the gig only EP In This Town. “How’s everyone doing?” Marcus said to the audience the moment he took to the floor. Strange Woods was an amazing track which flowed with energy. It was then onto The Room which was taken from the début album Nameless Path. I found this number to be very sleek. Towards the end everyone started to clap in unison. “It feels quite strange with everyone else sitting down. That’s cool whatever suits you guys. I’m happy” Foster said before another new song which appears on In This Town. This number being Worn Down By Time. I rather liked this strong laid back folk song. The vocals were both husky and stunning at the same time. It was then onto the first song that Foster released and this being the incredible Rushes & Reeds. The melody to this song was rather upbeat and the lyrics gelled to it perfectly. This song had some incredible guitar riffs.  I Don’t Need To Lose You To Know followed. This song was rather smooth and it was delivered to perfection. “It’s really fun to play with my band. I’m going to try one song by myself” Marcus said as his band then left the floor. It was then onto a brand new song. The set list listed as this tune being Love. This number was rather entrancing and it was stripped down as it was just Marcus and his guitar. Love was a promising song and it is a shame it does not feature on the current EP but there is no doubt it will feature on the next. The band then all came back for the next number which was I Was Broken. This number was a powerful folk-influenced love song and Marcus’s vocals were rather raspy. “I think we have time for a couple more” Foster then mentioned to the audience before the next tune and this being Old Birch Tree. Prior to singing the song Marcus introduced his band. Now the vocals were spot and plenty of energy oozed from this song. Its lyrics were amazing and you could see that everything was put into this performance. The evening then came to a close with the rip roaring Shadows Of The City.

SET LIST

Strange Woods
The Room
Worn Down By Time
Rushes & Reeds
I Don’t Need To Lose You To Know
Love
I Was Broken
Old Birch Tree
Shadows Of The City

OVERALL: This was a stunning evening seeing some fantastic folk music played live. Although I played it safe witnessing bands/ artists whom I have seen play before , I did uncover an artist who offers loads of promise and this being Ilona, I rather enjoyed the set which was performed and I will most definitely keep tabs on her.

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