Live Music + Gig Reviews

Fleadh Festival, Borderline Stage @ Finsbury Park, London

20 June 2004


musicOMH spies reliably inform us not to rip up our notepad and eat it in frustration, after missing openers The Murphy Kid and Bex Marshall.

“It’s Polly Paul-usma by the way”, corrects Polly Paulusma light-heartedly to the compere. From here on in, the Borderline Stage may as well be renamed the singer songwriter tent, with Paulusma drawing the first sizeable crowd, and it’s clear why. Dark Side is gripping with her sensual voice, which has just a hint of Norah Jones. Wearing a white summer dress Paulusma has yet to realise it will be soaked in an hour. After just four songs she departs all smiles. Fionn Regan is up next but Billy Bragg is on the main stage. What would you do?

An hour later, acclaimed Seattle singer songwriter Laura Veirs gushes at a crammed tent. With the first of several treacherous showers occurring, Veirs has an unenviable task. Sporting the library-chic look, she entertains humbly but with clear confidence. There is no doubt in her ability – Rapture is powerful and strongly received – but songs about ice, rain and rocks isn’t exactly music to our ears as it lashes down outside. Except for the superb Snow Doesn’t Turn to Rain, which gives Veirs the opportunity to loosen up a bit, albeit belatedly.

North Ireland’s chief representative Juliet Turner was humming out her folk hymns when a stampede arrived at the tent. Your wily scribe amongst it arrives panting, soaked and realizing how unfit he is, recomposes himself close to the stage. Turner turns out a reasonable set of driven folk, much to the joy of an amassed following towards the back of the tent.

Hot on her heels is one of Ireland’s proud sons, Damien Dempsey. The Dublin man has a voiceful following, a rugged pub-folk presence, and is so built you’d be afraid to commit blasphemy in fear of a good kicking. The big man’s emotive Celtic folk however fails to hit home with this scribe, but there were plenty who were more than appreciative.

The Charlatans, and an utter waste of time being bored by Counting Crows means Kathryn Williams and John Prine slip off the OMH radar. Soaked through and through one last exodus is made to the Borderline tent where we find many eagerly anticipating Laura Cantrell. The southern belle doesn’t disappoint and turned a dank and clumsy looking tent into a good spirited hoe down.

We left Cantrell just as she had warmed up, and musicOMH understands the billing of Borderline headliners Republic Of Loose as a new kind of Pogues as “utter horseshit”. A fresh change of clothes and musicOMH didn’t take much notice. Bob Dylan’s imminent arrival beckoned. Had the Fleadh Stage not been so strong, The Borderline Stage was a good enclave to laze about under a straw hat with some friends and cold pints of Carlsberg.



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