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Sunday, 25th June 2017
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The Quiet Brilliance of Steve Tilston

North West Folk music clubs picIt’s easy, with so much going on, to promise to check out a musician, but then neglect to do so. Such carelessness can backfire, when you finally get to hear them and they turn out to be something special. Such was the case with this reviewer regarding Steve Tilston as he performed a compelling set at Bromley Cross Folk Club.

From the first song, Rocky Road, that’s been covered by Fairport Convention, to the last, The Reckoning, (given its first hearing here) there was an impressive variation in both technique and material that kept the audience enthralled throughout.

Tilston’s fingerpicking is complex, but never so much that it detracts from the vocal line and he’s equally at home with a plectrum. Traditional pieces such at the Fisher Lad of Whitby were mixed in with the blues of Blind Boy Fuller and Bill Broonzy, with a nod toward the contemporary work of Davy Graham and John Martyn.

There were several offerings from his most recent album, Ziggurat. A Pretty Penny is a withering dissection of the banking profession, penned well before the credit crunch, but the highlight was The King of the Coiners, eerily beautiful, melancholy and angry.

All of this was delivered with an ease and an attitude that suggested that he was just a bloke from the pub who’d chosen to trot out a few tunes in between pints. Such expertise can inspire lesser guitarists to practice for a few hours more each day or tempt them to give up altogether and put their instruments on E-Bay.

From here Steve Tilston travels to the Netherlands for a handful of concerts, but he’ll be back in the UK soon and there will be ample opportunity for those in the North West to see him perform without travelling too far, so get yourselves to one his concerts. Why? Because it would be really silly not to.

- Les Pilling

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