Many things were missing from the Great British Summer last year – not least there was an unnervingly spooky silence in place of an anticipated antipodean friendly invasion.
But fear not, Australia’s weird and wonderfully hirsute, black-clad, wackily-hatted choristers are limbering up for another biennial blast round Britain – their ninth.
Following triumphant UK tours in 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2013, 2015, 2017 and 2019 they are busy packing multifarious hats in their native New South Wales, ready to whisk themselves away from the eucalyptus-infused Blue Mountains for a whistle-stop run of more than 20 performances in England, Scotland and Wales – a veritable bounty of gigs from Scotland to Southwold, big summer festivals including Cambridge, Sidmouth, Wickham and Broadstairs and a capital show at London’s Kings Place.
Variously described as ‘as thunderous as a herd of wildebeest’, ‘as sly as a wagonload of Spike Milligans’ and ‘as sonorous as a cloister of monks’ this masculine maelstrom is every inch the musical chameleon. They can do mellow and they can do mayhem. They can do dashing and they can do deadpan. They can do bitter and they can do sweet. And they can do it all with aplomb.
Spookmeister (and sole Kiwi) Stephen Taberner (he of the deerstalker hat) says they are looking forward more than ever to returning to these shores after COVID stopped play last year.
“I suppose that to be able to do what we do again is a reminder of why we do it in the first place. We live for those moments when the audience breathes as one – either in appreciation of a mighty note, as a gurgle of collective laughter at some fresh absurdity or in mute appreciation of something impossibly tender.
“The thought of experiencing those moments again means we can’t wait to sing at all our favourite places over there in your place.”
And this year, for the first time, the repertoire will include some Ukrainian songs alongside the Georgian ones. Their rendition of the Ukrainian folk song ‘Plyve Kacha’ is particularly poignant and has had over 300,000 views in the Ukraine alone.
Says Stephen: “The invasion of a country for political dominance can also be an attempt to invalidate or obliterate it’s culture. So the best thing we can do is affirm that culture and sing the songs.”
Kicking off in Scotland the tour will take them from Bury to Bethesda, Liverpool to Ludlow with a finale at Broadstairs Folk Week in early August. Their two shows in Oxford are already sold out.
Artists’ website: www.spookymen.com
‘Plyve Kacha’ – live:
UK TOUR 2022
Saturday 2 – Edinburgh, Queens Hall www.thequeenshall.net /0131 668 2019
Sunday 3 – Alnwick, Alnwick Playhouse www.alnwickplayhouse.co.uk/ 01665 660550
Tuesday 5 – Langholm, The Buccleuch Centre www.buccleuchcentre.com /01387 381196
Wednesday 6 – Kendal, Brewery Arts Centre www.breweryarts.co.uk /01539 725133
Thursday 7 – Settle, Victoria Hall (2pm show) www.settlevictoriahall.org.uk /01729 825718
Friday 8 – Gateshead, Sage Gateshead www.sagegateshead.com /0191 443 4661
Saturday 9 – Liverpool, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall www.liverpoolphil.com /0151 709 3789
Sunday 10 – Hebden Bridge, Hope Chapel
Tuesday 12 – Manchester, The Stoller Hall www.stollerhall.com /0333 1300967
Wednesday 13 – Bethesda, Capel Jerusalem www.neuaddogwen.com /01248 208485
Thursday 14 – Stroud, Subscription Rooms https://thesubrooms.co.uk /01453 796880
Friday 15 – Worcester, Huntingdon Hall www.worcestertheatres.co.uk / 01905 611427
Saturday 16 – Ludlow, Ludlow Assembly Rooms www.ludlowassemblyrooms.co.uk /01584 878141
Sunday 17 – Gate to Southwell Festival https://www.gtsf.uk /01636 816678
Friday 22 – Morecambe, Morecambe Winter Gardens https://morecambewintergardens.com/
Saturday 23 – Sheffield, The Leadmill www.leadmill.co.uk /0114 221 2828
Tuesday 26 – Oxford, Holywell Music Rooms SOLD OUT
Wednesday 27 – Oxford, Holywell Music Rooms SOLD OUT
Thursday 28 – Bury St Edmunds, The Apex www.theapex.co.uk/ 01284 758000
Friday 29 – Thorington, Thorington Outdoor Theatre, Suffolk www.thoringtontheatre.co.uk
Saturday 30 & Sunday 31 – Cambridge Folk Festival www.cambridgefolkfestival.co.uk
Monday 1 & Tuesday 2 – Sidmouth Folk Festival https://sidmouthfolkfestival.co.uk
Thursday 4 – Dorchester, Hardye Theatre www.dorchesterarts.org.uk
Friday 5 – Wickham Festival www.wickhamfestival.co.uk
Saturday 6 – London, Kings Place www.kingsplace.co.uk /020 7520 1490
Sunday 7 – Broadstairs Folk Week www.broadstairsfolkweek.org.uk