As I approached Church End Brewery Tap last night, dodging the puddles weaving through the angry stair rods of rain, I was running the gauntlet of debris flailing from the trees cloaking the road, as they whirled like dervishes, tormented by an Autumn storm. It seemed entirely apposite then, that the featured guests tonight would be the less than staid Green Man Rising ,joined by ourselves and a few other Lords (and Ladies) of Misrule.
Bedlam did indeed later ensue, indoors as well as outdoors, but in a very organised and proficiently choreographed form. Mad Tom of Bedlam, specifically. One of my favourite songs, well-performed and innovatively sung. And especially relevant as, a week earlier, I had been on the site of this very Sanatorium, in its present guise of the Imperial War Museum. Of which, more later.
Reduced by Man 'Flu and prior commitments, the ranks of BPS had been whittled down to two of the Originals by the time we assembled at Ridge Lane. The ever-improving Finger In The Jar opened proceedings, with some nicely worked-out harmonies. Followed by John and Elaine Meechan. We were third up, Arnie and I, "Ack Arrot Easide" with a hastily re-scribbled set list in my top pocket. We went for safety, opening with "All Over Now," and the audience joined it with what is by now customary gusto. Most knew all of the songs we followed with, all of which had choruses, so the floor singing was pretty good. Only one or two didn't, so it was interesting from my perspective, to see how they then coped with "If I were a Goat." One or two Newbies looked rather startled as the Community Bleating began, but eventually most present got in touch with their Caprine side.
We managed five songs, four of them original, before Phil sensibly dragged us off. The only notable moments were when Arnie accidentally let his plectrum sail across the floor and when my new dentures snuck loose during a chorus of The Odeon. Oh...and when I looked up and caught sight of what looked like Phil playing Cats Cradle with the wires trailing from his Mixing Desk.
Rich McMahon followed, and I immediately took to his likeable delivery of finely-crafted new songs using an old metier. Like ourselves, he wasn't averse to seeing humour in the more traditional aspects of Folk Culture. I'd not seen or heard him before, but hopefully we can drag him out to Nuneaton Folk Club some time.
And so, after the Interval, it was time for Most Of The Green Man Rising. I'd seen them before, but even so I particularly enjoyed this set. Loud and raucous as always, but with some real thought put into some of the arrangements and a high level of musicianship on show, involving a plethora of instruments. Nuneaton's own Lizard King, Steve Bentley, prowled and stamped about the stage area with the usual mixture of benevolence and malice, whilst clouting that bloody big drum of his in a way that was difficult not to resist. It was All Of the Green Man Rising eventually, as a fifth member finally joined them, having got lost out there in Mirkwood. Easily done, on a filthy night like this if you don't know the roads. Considering the journey she must have had, I thought her composure as she joined them was excellent. I'd sat in the car crying for ten minutes after I'd parked up earlier. ( Well..five, then).
If it were possible to add more instrumental talent-she did, and her vocals were also very enjoyable. I loved their version of Tom Of Bedlam. An eerie, disturbing song when done by Steeleye-but that edgy uncomfortable edge-of-the-seat mood was also well captured well by GMR. One final thought-with not one but two female fiddle players-should it really be Green Men and Women Rising? I'll leave that one with you.