The Royal Concert Hall, Nottingham


Sitting atop their genre, Bellowhead have recently enjoyed an exponential rise in popularity as the eleven piece outfit continue to build their reputation as arguably the finest band in modern folk music. Still standing firm since the release of their latest album “Revival”, the band are eagerly scoping the nation in a journey to prove that their glowing position is set to spiral to new heights this year.

Opening the evening are Kings of the South Seas, a trio who enlighten the packed venue with a historical overview of tales of whaling over the various centuries which have passed. This may be an incredibly specific tangent, but their performance showcases unexpected depth within their whaling tales. Their sound amply personifies a haunted dockyard, littered with ghouls and abandoned vessels through the eerie tones of accordion and the tribal rumbling of percussion. The three piece manage to concoct a sound which offers a unique atmosphere, overlaying the rich vocals of Ben Nicholls and the dark, purposeful lyricism behind each whale tale. Their moody, yet characteristic storytelling spans from the lust of a night watchman waiting to return to his bunk in the emphatic “8 Bells” to the infectiously catchy “King of the Cannibal Island”, showing a noble balance to their material within such a black and white underlying theme. It’s a set which leaves us all feeling fulfilled in both a melodic and historical sense, as the brilliance of this outfit provides a fitting way to start the evening.


After signing to Island Records and pushing their music to new heights last year, Bellowhead have developed themselves into a once in a lifetime outfit. The mini-orchestra walk on to an electric atmosphere and immediately prove that they carry the same undeniable desire to perform as their previous tours, but with the cut-throat execution and liquid precision worthy of the towering heights that they have reached. The stunning surroundings of the Royal Concert Hall are a perfect fit for Bellowhead’s joyous brand of uplifting melodies and hair raising showmanship. Every member serves their purpose as the full bodied sound they possess would somehow be shifted if you were to remove even one of their members. Ranging from the flamboyant humour of trumpet player Justin Thurgur to the momentous talent of BBC Radio 2 folk musician of the year, Sam Sweeney, the band flaunt every possible attribute imaginable in their overwhelming performance.

The fluorescently dressed Jon Boden seems to have new life behind his presence, as the world class musician owns the stage in a way that you would expect from an outfit which regularly visits arenas. The entire performance is a showcase of immaculately well-rehearsed delivery and a band relishing every second on stage. Despite the seated classification of the night, there are only so many times that you are able to restrain yourself from moving, as the band orchestrate the venue to rise together to dance for the tail end of their set. Once the exhilarating ‘London Town’ and ‘New York Girls’ ring out to the ecstatic audience, it becomes impossible to deny that Bellowhead have somehow reached new heights through their enchanting display of pure class from start to finish. The impeccable distinction of their brilliance in every department continues to outshine every bright spark in their genre; Bellowhead are beyond description and always a genuine pleasure to witness.


Bellowhead Set List
Let Her Run
10,000 Miles Away
Cross-Eyed and Chinless
Betsy Baker
Haul Away
Fine Sally
Hopkinson’s Favourite
Gosport Nancy
Roll Alabama
Fakenham Fair
Moon Kittens
Greenwood Side
Let Union Be
Whiskey is the Life of Man
Rosemary Lane
London Town
The March Past
New York Girls

Roll the Woodpile Down
Frogs Legs & Dragon’s Teeth


Words by George Fullerton

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