Saturday saw me at the Ely folk festival. The big draw for me was Edward II. They have reformed for ‘one year only’ and I just had to see them. It had been quite a few years since I’d last seen them which was just before they split up, disbanded or whatever you want to call it and I was wondering if they’d lost the magic.
Edward II, who were originally called Edward II and the Red Hot Polkas, nice historical joke, are a roots fusion band. They take traditional folk tunes and songs from these isles and give them a ska, reggae or polka treatment, then on other occasions they’ll take modern reggae songs and enhance them with a little local English flavour. It all makes for a highly danceable and pleasing sound. Whilst they are saying that they have reformed for one year only I do hope it is for longer, or that they have frequent ‘get togethers’. They are a quality band and I don’t understand why they were never more popular than they are. They easily have the ability to cross over, but I suppose that’s the nature of the folk world, it is largely ignored by the mainstream music business, which is a shame.
I was not disappointed. They played a blinding set including all their old favourites. I’d forgotten about Simon Care. What can you say about Simon Care? Top class melodeon player and all round nutter perhaps? He bounces around on stage playing with his squeeze box and leering at the audience in a Johnny Rotten style that he has made his own. That coupled with fine musicianship from all the other members including a really strong mini horn section makes for a very round sound. If you get the chance to go and see Edward II do so. I guarantee that you will find it impossible to stay still while they are on.
Other great acts I saw included, Chris While and Julie Matthews (always top performers), Something Nasty In The Woodshed, QP and Flossie Malavialle (an amusing and attractive young French lady who speaks English with a French/Geordie accent - quite surreal). I didn’t bother staying for the final act The Peatbog Faeries, as I just wasn’t bothered, Edward II were top of the bill as far as I was concerned.