Saturday 31 May 2014

Maz O'Connnor at Twickfolk

Maz O'Connor with guitar
As you may know I spent a glorious 6 months as artist-in-residence at Twickfolk to help celebrate 30 years of live music at this popular venue. This was my first time back (25/05/2014), under the recommendation of  reliable talent spotter, Mike Watts, or Dr Fizzy as he is more popularly known. The talent in question was Maz O'Connor, a petite singer with both compositional and vocal skills that have been celebrated recently with a nomination for the Horizon Award in the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2013.

Twickfolk is run by enthusiasts and volunteers so the welcome is always genuine and heartfelt upon arrival. I felt even more at home with the news that Sue Graves would be providing the support. An all too short brace of tunes gave us first Amos Lee's "Sweet Pea" and then 'A May carol'. She is both a real asset to Twickfolk and the folk scene itself with the clarity of her unfaltering voice.

Sue Graves
Whether it was the build up or exterior factors at play but the otherwise competent Maz O'Connor tripped over words frequently during introductions and in-between tunes. Strangely she felt exposed on stage and this was exaggerated in the dead silence of a folk club. The audience though didn't let her flounder. Of course music is their most common bond but such diverse subjects as Greek mythology and the Suffragettes movement were not beyond their oeuvre.

Maz O'Connor's most successful tune of the evening was "Greenwood side" that painted a rich picture in its combination of narrative and music. Based upon a heady mix of Pre-Raphaelites imagery and the subject matter of Lizzie Siddal, the song churned dark and rich like the Hogsmill River that runs just a few miles away. It was here that John Everett Millais painted his iconic version of Ophelia which now hangs in the Tate Gallery and remains one of our nation's favourite paintings. I hope this tune will find a place close to our hearts too.

Maz O'Connor - Shruti Box
O'Connor didn't dominate her appearance at Twickfolk but to her credit her demeanour was one of approachability over star quality. Her voice had a light purity that skated over the ice rather than cut into it with an ear-catching pirouette. Her song-writing by contrast had a strength which lasted throughout. The two songs that cut the deepest were "The Mississippi Woman" and "My Persephone", the latter had stretch and ambition that gave us a full view of our headliner's talents.


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