Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room
4th March 2018
Reviewed by Rob Harrison
Stick In The Wheel are a politico folk band, lyrically more in the tradition of post punk veterans The Raincoats.
Using traditional singing and instruments, the subject matter is contemporary and ranges from the riots of 2012 to Epping Forest on fire, and then moving on to a song about a horse tethered up in the street.
A strange collection indeed, but they walk in the footsteps of Philip Marlowe the Elizabethan poet and dramatist. it’s a strange London world, full of folk demons and dark alleyways. Like the Handsome Family, as I mentioned before, they share a love of murder ballads and all things gothic.
The band comprise of the classic folk lineup accordion, violin, guitar, and what appears to be a box drum. And together the musicians contribute to make a brilliant sound. Each instrument has its place within the musical tapestry.
They remind me slightly of Spiro, the Bristol based Nu-Folk band, when I say Nu-Folk, I mean that it perhaps takes its ideas from Steve Reich, as well as traditional folk melodies.
The singer Nicola Kearey has the same tonal inflections as Linda Thompson. Mentioning that, some of the material Stick in the Wheel play takes me back to the the seminal folk album ‘I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight” by Richard and Linda Thomson.
Nicola describes her love of English folk for its use of dark and terrifying subject matter. Fitting then for this post-Brexit Britain we now find ourselves engaged in.
So a new genre exists perhaps, post-Brexit folk. maybe I should copyright it.
But whatever, pre or post, Stick In The Wheel are brilliant at what they do.