Beyondsemble – Back of Beyond Tour

Back of Beyond generously gave a funky, folk, good fusion feel when they played at the Folk Club on Sunday 4th March 2018. With Craig Denham on accordion, piano, vocals and percussion, along with Nathan Torvik on guitar, vocals, bass and mandolin, and Siobhan Sweeney on vocals, tin whistle, guitar and percussion. Starting their tour on 6th January this appearance was the groups 27th performance out of the planned thirty, giving them tune to hone and fine tune their sounds, and fine tuning they exhibited to the max, with enthusiasm, joy de virve and abundance.

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The instrumentation included a guitar originally gifted to Nate for use for the Brazilian Redwood wood, however research on the patent number revealed that the guitar was constructed in New York in 1865, came to New Zealand via France, has previously been repaired by Peter Tilton and more recently improved by Nate Torvik. A sense of history was a thread through the night as Craig performed one of his original works, a self described cathartic piece titled ‘Overture’, written on a baby grand at the Walfrieden estate, a piano that was originally a Yamaha tester for the European market, however refitted by Steinway after a mouse infestation.

The nostalgia continued with Jerusalem Ridge by Bill Monroe,Bluegrass lived well and true for this song. The diversity of the set lists was inspirational, as the rhythms, instrumentation and formats changed. African, funk and the pineapple, apple apple 7/8 had us mambo-ing on our seats, and reminiscence of the Jews Brothers filled the room. Then there were some real treasures like the Vodka song, where we got to hail in out thickest Russian accent the response to the call, and our ‘shout’ called for Vodka.

Siobhan had a tone in her voice that reminded me of Natalie Merchant, apparently not the first time she has been told this, after the break we were treated to ‘Motherland’, thank you. The penultimate song ‘We’ll meet again’, had beautiful chromatic variances that Siobhan offered with her lyrics, that had me thinking what a beautiful song that I have been underestimating for too long. There was a true ripper to end the night, and listening to all the effort that Craig gave the vocals it was a song that could not be usurped. It was a grand finale track and ‘The House’ song from New Orleans rang in my ears for many hours after the show.

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It was interesting and A night of poly-chromatics, harmonies and descants that soared, Nate’s finger work that was stunning in accuracy and lightening speed and flowed across the variety of genres, Siobhan’s songwriting that was quirky, interesting and delightfully lighthearted that warmed my soul as she smiled across the night, and Craig with his exemplary musicianship held it all together as the holder of the set list, the collaborator of the group and storyteller, and art that added that special dimension to the night. Judi Smitheram Secretary Great gig folks! Just loved your songwriting! And Return to Dingle was divine… xxx Laura Taylor