The Incredible Mike Heron
Bom-Bane’s, Brighton, UK
5 May 2011
A magical evening at Bom-Bane’s – one of the few venues in the galaxy to make the Tom Thumb Theatre feel spacious… The legendary Mike Heron on warm and engaging form, playing two sets of Incredible String Band favourites, with stronger musical support than he’s had since the seventies. Perhaps the one obvious gap in a set-list of Heron classics was ‘Everything’s Fine Right Now’ – but if you didn’t climb the spiral staircase at the end with that thought firmly in your head anyway, and a silly grin on your face to match, then you hadn’t been listening properly.
The accompaniment came from astounding fiddler and multi-instrumentalist, Nick Pynn*; the Trembling Bells’ guitarist, Mike Hastings, relishing the opportunity to play rather more whistle, kazoo and jew’s harp than the day-job allows; and Mike Heron’s daughter, Georgia Seddon, whose keyboards, percussion and strong vocals added much more to the mix than Licorice and Rose in the old days. What a band – and more than equal to the eclecticism of the original arrangements. (I will particularly treasure a memory of one song with Nick playing an intricate pizzicato part on fiddle while also clutching a mallet in his hand to hit a miniature xylophone at strategic moments…)
At 68, Heron’s voice comes and goes a little – less certain now in strength and pitching, but he seemed to relax and push out more as the evening progressed to its glorious conclusion – ‘A Very Cellular Song’, in all its mystery and wonder, before a spritely ‘Hedgehog’s Song.’
Along the way, the many highlights included fine versions of ‘Black Jack Davy’, ‘Log Cabin Home In The Sky’ and ‘Cousin Caterpillar’ – as well as ‘Feast of St Stephen’ from Mike’s first, great, solo album, which he reprised with Trembling Bells last Christmas. Georgia featured two of her own songs – ‘Bird’ and ‘Paths’, which fitted in well. As did a cameo Brighton song from host Jane Bom-Bane.
Mike even featured a Robin Williamson number – ‘The Circle is Unbroken’ – introduced with the slightly barbed comment that he always had the knack of writing what the hippies wanted. But
Come let us build the ship of the future
In an ancient pattern that journeys far
will serve as well now as it did at Woodstock.
* I have to declare an interest, in that Nick is an old friend, whose amazing playing has turbocharged a number of sessions at our parties over the years. But I’m not biased – he’s great.
(originally posted here at http://edenontheline.co.uk/reviews/mike-heron-5-may-2011.html)