In 1970 Keith Christmas was the opening guest for the new acoustic music club (you could call it folk but that wouldn’t describe the range of music and artists on show at the time) in a small barn behind The Lamb in Trowbridge. This club went on to become the renowned Village Pump festival so it was fitting that when Keith decided to record his first live set in 2012, it should be back there.
15 digitally recorded live tracks cover the range of Keith’s current set (the slide songs such as Fat Cat Big Fish and The Days Are Long, ballads such as Duty Days and Light of the Dawn, and several of Keith’s ever-popular songs from the ’70s: Travelling Down, Evensong, The Fawn, and Forest and the Shore) all make up a great range of exemplary fingerpicking and passionate singing. To add to this there is the blisteringly fast Rock Star (not played since the ’80s, when Keith unveiled it at a bar in Spain the crowd leapt to their feet shouting “olé”!) and three bonus tracks recorded live in the studio: Plunder Town, All My Life and Falling Rain.
Keith has been a name people have known in the acoustic scene for over 40 years and he is enjoying something of a revival in the national media. His playing is still as practiced as it has always been and at last it is possible to enjoy this legendary artist live, banter, jokes and all!
It’s not easy to keep a live album varied with just your voice and guitar. Keith Christmas – veteran of the very first Glastonbury festival and recorder of very collectable B&C-released albums in the early 70s – made a pretty good fist of things during this gig, recorded earlier in the year.
As you might expect, Christmas’ guitar playing is immaculate throughout, varying the way each song feels and including a couple of audience participation numbers along the way. Happily, his voice is just as expressive as it used to be, too, on a mix of 70s material such as Travelling Down with later songs the likes of 2007’s Light Of The Dawn. Evensong, Duty Days and the attractive love song Better Men, provide set highlights, while Christmas can’t help but raise a smile on the good-humoured Rock Star.
After 15 live cuts there are three bonuses which – despite a lack of info – appear to be new studio recordings. The most notable of these, All My Life and Falling Rain, are especially accessible numbers, making a very satisfying end to a collection of Christmas past and present.