This Thursday past saw a special birthday concert take place in the quaint and quirky venue of The Old Queen’s Head, in Islington (serendipitously near Angel station).
Singer-songwriter Steve Dagleish was the focal point of the night’s gathering, kicking off the celebrations with ‘Angel To Ancient’; a reflective number cultivated in a songwriting workshop, courtesy of The Kinks’ Ray Davies. A sensitive and wistful lookback at the passage of time, Steve played it solo, just his lyrics and his acoustic guitar; setting an intimate atmosphere for the evening.
When I first reviewed Steve’s album Yours For Eternity a year ago, I was so monumentally struck by how carefully crafted each song was, it was more like listening to stories with a melody to match their mood. Now, after this stretch of time, to hear those songs, that possess a lot of sentimental value for myself, played live was a definite experience indeed.
He was soon joined onstage by friend and fellow musician Ben Richardson, as he plucked away at his classical guitar adding musical depth to ‘Emily Stands Strong’, ‘King of the Mountain’ and ‘Gabriel’s Horn’. Between each number, Steve presented a fragment of the main message or feeling behind it- again a wonderful treat to hear an artist explain the seed that grew into the song.
It was lovely to see hear a twist on Steve’s music again as he was joined him onstage by his partner Caro Lyne, who added her delicate vocal harmonies on various original songs, my personal highlight however was their rendition of a modern day gem; The Milk Carton Kids’, ‘New York’.
The vibrant and vivacious Ranagri were up next, close musical friends of Steve and an amazing group in their own right. Having seen them before, I was excited to hear some favourites again, beginning with their instrumental piece, ‘The Hare’. The fast-paced and musically dynamic tone, in perfect sync with its title, always allows for the imagination to blossom whilst listening to it.
The band is comprised of: Ellie Turner (Electric Harp), Joe Danks (Bodhran/Guitar), Donal Rogers (Guitars/Bass/Vocals) and Eliza Marshall (Flutes/Ethnic Flutes). The diverse mix of instruments make for an electric, diverse folk sound with a unique blend of different cultural influences. For instance, ‘Rhythm Takes You Back’ incorporates the traditional elements of African music whilst ‘P Stands For Paddy’ retains the elements of traditional folk storytelling.
Their set ended on my personal favourite ‘You Can Do Better’; a positive anthem inspired by one man throwing wildflower seeds into the River Themes; a mark of how we can all make small changes to care for our environment and one another. The soaring chorus never fails to inspire me and judging by the crowd reaction, i wasn’t the only one who felt that way either.
To end such a warm and welcoming evening, everyone took to the stage: Steve Dagleish, Ranagri et all for one last singalong, ending on three of Steve’s songs including the title track of his previous album, ‘Only Losers Write On Bridges’.