Reunited Boden & Spiers to showcase new material at Pocklington Arts Centre concert

AFTER years of speculation, much-loved English folk duo Spiers & Boden are back together, working on new material and bringing a live show to Pocklington Arts Centre (PAC) this autumn. 

John Spiers, 46, and Jon Boden, 44, former leading lights of big folk band Bellowhead, will perform in Pock on Wednesday, October 20.

PAC director Janet Farmer says: “Spiers & Boden are a fantastic addition to our live events programme, and the fact that Pocklington Arts Centre will be one of their first live dates after they re-formed as a duo, following a hiatus of several years, is just incredible. Tickets have only just gone on sale and are already selling fast. 

“We cannot wait to welcome this talented duo, and of course our wonderful audience, through our doors for what will be an utterly brilliant night of world–class live music.”

Forming a folk duo in 2001, Spiers & Boden won a clutch of BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards: the Horizon Award for Best Newcomerin 2003 and the Best Duo Award in 2004 and 2006.  

A sojourn in Eliza Carthy & The Ratcatchers included a performance at the Mercury Music Prize Awards. After years of touring, in 2011 they headlined their own star-studded show at London’s Shepherd’s Bush Empire to celebrate their tenth anniversary.

Bellowhead: Boden and Spiers’ 11-piece folk big band

Meanwhile, they had built on their early success as a duo to found the ground-breaking folk big band Bellowhead, going on to achieve Royal Albert Hall sell-outs, Proms In The Park successes, multiple awards, signing to Universal Records en route to 250,000 album sales, and headlining PAC’s Platform Festival at The Old Station, Pocklington, in July 2015.

Inevitably, Bellowhead increasingly dominated their time and in 2014 Spiers & Boden made the tough decision to rest the duo, with Bellowhead bowing out two years later. 

Since then, Boden has carved out a career as both a solo performer and with his own band, Jon Boden & The Remnant Kings, while continuing to work on his creative trilogy of albums exploring a post-apocalyptic world and his work writing music for theatre. On November 6 2017, he launched his album Afterglow with a solo gig at Pocklington Arts Centre.

Melodeon player Spiers formed performance collaborations with fiddler Peter Knight, of Steeleye Span and Feast Of Fiddles, and separately folk singer and fiddler Jackie Oates.

He is a member too of the Gigspanner Big Band, with Knight, percussionist Sacha Trochet, guitarist Roger Flack and the multi-instrumental Edgelarks duo of Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin.  

What an autumn week this is shaping up to be at PAC: Irish chanteuse Mary Coughlan on October 19, Spiers & Boden, October 20, and Texas-born singer-songwriter Beth Nielsen Chapman on October 23. Tickets for Spiers & Boden’s 8pm Pocklington concert cost £20 at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.

Richard Thompson to play 2021 Platform Festival after Covid de-railed July’s Old Station gig. Son Teddy heads for Pock too

Richard Thompson: Changing Platform date in Pocklington

POCKLINGTON Arts Centre has confirmed Thompson dates at the double for 2021.

Father Richard, the 71-year-old English folk-rock luminary, songwriter and guitarist, will play next summer’s Platform Festival, run by PAC at The Old Station, on July 21. Son Teddy, the English singer and songwriter long resident in New York City, is booked in for January 22.

This summer’s Covid-curtailed Platform Festival would have opened with comedian Omid Djalili on Thursday, followed by Robert Plant’s Saving Grace on Friday; Shed Seven’s Rick  Witter and Paul Banks headlining Super Saturday in acoustic mode and the BBC Big Band next Tuesday.

Fairport Convention alumnus Richard Thompson, who now lives in Montclair, New Jersey, after three decades in Los Angeles, was in the diary to close the festival next Wednesday. Instead, you will have to wait a year now.

Next January, son Teddy will showcase his sixth solo studio album, Heartbreaker Please, released on May 29 on Thirty Tigers.

“Here’s the thing, you don’t love me anymore,” sings Teddy on his frank contribution to the time-honoured break-up record club. “I can tell you’ve got one foot out the door.”

Teddy Thompson: Joining the break-up album club. Picture: Gary Waldman

From the off, Heartbreaker Please wrestles with the breakdown of love with wistful levity and devastating honesty. The songs are drawn from the demise of a real-life relationship, set against the backdrop of New York City, the place Thompson has called home for the better part of two decades, having left London for the USA at 18 and settled in the Big Apple five years later.

“I took a summer vacation that never ended,” he says. “In retrospect, I was trying to reinvent myself. It was easier to leave it all behind, go somewhere new and declare myself an artist. And you can actually re-invent yourself in America; step off the plane, say ‘my name is Teddy Thompson, I’m a musician’.”

In a departure for Teddy, at the [broken] heart of Heartbreaker Please are references to someone else doing the heart-breaking. “I’m usually the one who does that!” he says. “A defence mechanism, of course, but all of a sudden I was the one on the back foot. I was the ‘plus 1’, and I admit, I didn’t deal with it very well. But also, don’t date actors.”

The relationship ended just as Thompson was finishing penning the songs that would form Heartbreaker Please. “I tend to write sad songs, slow songs. It’s what comes naturally,” he says. “So I tried to make an effort here to set some of the misery to a nice beat! Let the listener bop their heads while they weep.”

Teddy, 44-year-old son of Richard and Linda Thompson, will be supported by another artiste with a folk-roots heritage: Roseanne Reid, eldest daughter of The Proclaimers’ Craig Reid.

Tickets for Thompson times two are on sale at pocklingtonartscentre.co.uk.