Gig review: Jacqui and Bridie’s final folk club @ Liverpool Philharmonic
Sunday 23rd January, 2011
I started out at Jacqui and Bridie’s Folk Club when it was based at the Rocket pub at the bottom of the M62. It was the place of my first ever public performance and I was a regular there for a while. Tonight the club closed its doors after an amazing 50 years with a fitting finale at a packed Philharmonic. It featured a slew of special guests, and most of the old favourites in a show that went on for almost three and a half hours. The fact that there were so many great songs that Jacqui never got round to singing shows the depth of their contribution to the Liverpool folk scene, and beyond.
Musharee Musharoo Musharah Clap clap clap. The night started with Kilgarry Mountain as it always has, and the delighted crowd clapped along in all the right places. Jacqui paid tribute to the city that had become her adopted home. Both Jacqui and Bridie were adopted Scousers, born elsewhere, but Jacqui said: “We came to Liverpool and Liverpool gave us an identity.” She then sung Stan Kelly’s Liverpool Lullaby as if to underline the tribute, before Hughie Jones of The Spinners, still running his own excellent Everyman Folk Club, came on stage to sing Champion Of The Seas and The Moles of Edge Hill.
Other guests included Sense of Sound’s Jennifer John, the young fiddler and vocalist Jacob Carter, and actor Mike Neary reading Arthur Williams’ poem The One O’ Clock Gun. Then it was a rousing rendition of the lovely Back Buchanan Street, oddly fitting given recent evictions in the Edge Lane area, before Harvey Andrews joined Jacqui to sing two wonderful songs. The latter, City Dweller, was sung by Jacqui and Bridie at their Royal Command Performance so felt particularly apt.
The first half closed with a real treat as the Pagoda Youth Orchestra took to the stage with traditional Chinese instruments. It is the only Chinese Youth Orchestra outside of mainland China and it is here in Liverpool.
It was more laughter and folky fun after the interval as Jacqui began with a Quaker song that medleyed seamlessly into Lord Of The Dance. A few tunes later, and on came the legendary Stan Kelly, grinning in a Liverpool FC scarf, specially knitted red socks (or should that be red sox!) and a Boston Red Sox baseball cap, and promptly sang a rewritten version of the old folk song John Henry as a homage to LFC’s new owner. More seriously, Stan gave us a rendition of one of his most famous Scouse folk songs – the tremendous I Wish I Was Back In Liverpool, and the whole of the Phil sang along. A filmed goodwill message from Tom Paxton recounting the time he played the Jacqui & Bridie Folk club (one of so many famous names who did) led to a lovely self-penned song by club regular Geri French. John Gorman of The Scaffold had Jacqui and the rest of us in helpless laughter with a deliciously silly Ten Whiskey Bottles, before the Sense of Sound choir sang the Jacqui and Bridie song Pink And Pleasant Land. 80 year old (not that he looked it!) Jimmy McGregor from Scotland got us all singing along to his Yuri Gigarin tribute. Then came The Houghton Weavers no less. “We come from Bolton” they announced proudly. “The home of football.” Another filmed message, this time from Peggy Seeger, and the night closed with Whiskey On A Sunday and It’s Never Too Late before all 19 of Jacqui’s guests and fellow performers returned to the stage for Leaving Of Liverpool.
The standing ovation demanded an encore, and so it was granted, with the beautiful folk song Wild Mountain Thyme. Another standing ovation as Jacqui walked from the stage, the people of her adopted city thanking her for 50 years of service to the world of folk, and me in particular giving my own special thanks to both her and Bridie for starting me off.
Liverpool Acoustic is the only website of its kind in the UK. It was founded by Graham Holland in April 2008 as a central resource for the vibrant and exciting acoustic music scene in Liverpool and the Greater Merseyside area. The website publishes news from the local acoustic music scene, previews of upcoming events, reviews of music releases and gigs, and the Liverpool Acoustic Spotlight podcast. This content is available for free via email subscription. The diary lists acoustic events including festivals, theatre concerts, folk clubs, showcases and open mic nights.