Album Review: Bellowhead Live – The Farewell Tour

NAVIGATOR095X1It’s pretty fair to say that Bellowhead have been a dominating presence on the folk scene for more than a decade but sadly 2016 will see their final tour. As devastating as that news may well be we are at least graced with Bellowhead Live: The Farewell Tour, which at this stage unless you are one of the lucky few with tickets to their final sold out shows, will be the closest you can get to having the chance to appreciate them live.

It’s without question that Bellowhead have produced some truly incredible albums over the years but a large part of what has made them so wonderfully engaging and popular is their raw, relentless and playful energy. When they hot the stage, they hit it at one hundred miles an hour and they barely slow down to take a breath. Their stage presence is that of a herculean rock band – they don’t just fill the stage; they fill the room, the concert hall, the festival. They are a bold and brash force of nature that creates beautiful, colourful extravaganzas and thankfully The Farewell Tour has captured this perfectly.

Their boundless energy is captured from the very beginning as the sounds of Roll Alabama rupture to life with a flare. Their sound cuts through your surroundings like a lighthouse through the night. The unique and wonderful sound of tubas, fiddles and trumpets swirls around you and their presence presses down around you so much that you can close your eyes and imagine you are there with ease.

Each and every one of the 29 tracks on this double album capture the restless energy with which they play and brings it to life in your minds eye. They cycle through over a decades worth of crowd-pleasing favourites such as Roll the Woodpile Down, London Town, New York Girls and Betsy Baker. Each track more vibrant and resonant than the last, the album has a crisp and clear sound that allows every instrument to shine through the songs in their own right and topping it all off is the astounding and charismatic vocals of Jon Boden.

This album would be a monumental treat in its own right of course but just in case there were any doubts out there about their incredible performances they have also included a DVD of one of their exemplary live performances so you can treat yourself to watching the real thing.

Bellowhead have long held out as one of the most unique and contemporary sounds on the folk circuit, traversing the slippery slopes between a host of genres. They are true folk for folk lovers but also hardcore rockers toting fiddles. They are a transcendent amalgamation of almost every genre and they twist and turn their tunes into some of the most catchy and compelling songs to grace a stage. Their final tour date will be a dark date for music but at least with this album we will always have these fond memories of just how exciting it was to witness them live. This isn’t simply any old live album, this is a piece of folk history.

THAT’S ALL FOLKS – THE FINAL BELLOWHEAD TOUR

COLSTON HALL, BRISTOL *SOLD OUT*
Wednesday, April 13

SYMPHONY HALL, BIRMINGHAM *SOLD OUT*
Thursday, April 14

CITY HAL, SALISBURY *SOLD OUT*
Friday, April 15

COLSTON HALL, BRISTOL *SOLD OUT*
Saturday, April 16

ST DAVID’S HALL, CARDIFF *SOLD OUT*
Sunday, April 17

DOME, BRIGHTON *SOLD OUT*
Monday, April 18

PHILHARMONIC, LIVERPOOL *SOLD OUT*
Tuesday, April 19

GLASGOW – ABC *SOME TICKETS REMAINING* [BUY TICKETS]
Wednesday, April 20

CITY HALL, SHEFFIELD *SOLD OUT*
Thursday, April 21

HEXAGON, READING *SOLD OUT*
Friday, April 22

PALLADIUM, LONDON *SOLD OUT*
Saturday, April 23

CORN EXCHANGE, CAMBRIDGE *SOLD OUT*
Sunday, April 24

VICTORIA HALL, HALIFAX *SOLD OUT*
Monday, April 25

DERNGATE, NORTHAMPTON *SOLD OUT*
Tuesday, April 26

GUILDHALL, SOUTHAMPTON *SOLD OUT*
Wednesday, April 27

CLIFFS PAVILION, SOUTHEND *SOLD OUT*
Thursday, April 28

OPEN, NORWICH *SOLD OUT*
Friday, April 29

ROYAL CONCERT HALL, NOTTINGHAM *SOLD OUT*
Saturday, April 30

TOWN HALL, OXFORD *SOLD OUT*
Sunday, May 1

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Review by Joe Knipe