Julie July Band live in Penzance

Julie July Band
Photograph by Dave Pegg

With lots of milder spring weather finally making an appearance in Cornwall, what could be nicer than venturing down from the hills of Penwith for some live music at the Acorn Theatre? Well, it turns out that many of my neighbours took the opportunity of seeing the Julie July Band on the 30th March 2019, and I don’t think anyone was disappointed.

There has to be a certain sadness in a set comprised mostly of songs written by or associated with Sandy Denny, in that there is always an element of regret that there will be no more Denny songs, or further opportunities to hear that incomparable voice apart from those recordings already available. Yet when that set is executed with such charm, respect and professionalism, no one is likely to leave the theatre without feeling uplifted.

Julie started the show with Richard Farina’s ‘Quiet Joys Of Brotherhood’ – starting an electric set with an unaccompanied song might seem a risky strategy, but the old Irish melody to which Farina set his lyric lends itself so well to an unaccompanied treatment and for me it was the perfect opening, seguing into a full band version of Sandy’s own ‘Listen, Listen’.

The rest of the set ranged over most of Sandy’s tragically short career, from the Dave Cousins songs ‘Tell Me What You See In Me’ and ‘And You Need Me’, from her brief spell with the Strawbs, to the Fotheringay version of ‘Gypsy Davey’, to songs from her solo albums like ‘Solo’ and ‘Blackwaterside’. They even found space to include the Inkspots’ ‘Whispering Grass’, which Sandy covered on Like An Old-Fashioned Waltz. While her time with Fairport Convention wasn’t represented much, two of the songs performed are associated as much with Fairport as with other recorded versions. ‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes’ was recorded by both Fairport and the Strawbs, and the stunning ‘Fotheringay’, after which the later band was named, originally appeared on Fairport’s What We Did On Our Holidays.

Julie has promised that the band will always include Sandy Denny songs, and so they should: songs like these should never be forgotten, and Julie is an accomplished and sensitive interpreter of Sandy’s material, and the band provides her with excellent support. I was particularly struck by Steve Rezillo’s fluent lead guitar, especially on ‘Fotheringay’ with its interplay with Don MacLeod’s intricate acoustic guitar. That said, I was also intrigued to get my first aural glimpse of several tracks from the band’s forthcoming CD of original material, Lady Of The First Light, due for release in May, and I’m very much looking forward to hearing the whole thing.

Meanwhile, the band proved here that they can do justice to a whole bunch of Sandy’s songs apart from those on their CD from last year Who Knows Where The Time Goes? Given the chance to attend one of their concerts, I think any Sandy Denny fan will find much to enjoy, and if you’re not familiar with these songs, you have a treat in store.

David Harley

Artist’s website: juliejuly.co.uk/

‘Who Knows Where The Time Goes?’ – live:

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