Review: Cosgrave and Banks, 8th October 2016 – Music for the brain, the heart and the soul!

For those of you who were there, I don’t need to explain. If you missed this performance, then try to catch one of their other gigs in Devon – see www.Cosgraveandbanks.com.

You don’t need to be a folk enthusiast to love this music; you just need to love music with depth and interest. One review of their debut CD, “Warp & Weft” described Cosgrave and Banks’ take on folk music as ‘the folk end of chamber music’ and this is a good description. However, it loses none of the emotion or the joyful exuberance of traditional folk. Nor that brilliant intertextuality that draws on music that draws on other music, reinventing itself into the historical distance. And there were definitely folk enthusiasts at the performance on Saturday who were lapping it up and calling for more.

Cosgrave and Banks are both highly skilled and experienced musicians in their own right. They write their own music as well as interpreting classics and less well known pieces from across Europe. Coming together, they use the interplay of various instruments (sometimes you’re convinced there must be more than two people playing!) to produce a sound that is endlessly imaginative and richly textured, sometimes witty, sometimes haunting, with rhythms and tones that keep you guessing. Through the first half hour of the set, the audience was very quiet. They were working it out, wondering what was coming next. And then they got it. They realised they were in safe and very dextrous hands. At times, the melodies go on unpredictable journeys, no one piece prepares you for the next and yet, each is intensely satisfying with its own particular integrity. And the musicians themselves set the audience at ease, chatting, bantering, giving context to the music, explaining musical origins and instruments. In no time, the audience sat back, relaxed and enjoyed the good time they’d come for.

It’s not always that I hear music that makes me smile quite so much as this music did. And judging by the smiles on other people’s faces, I wasn’t alone. One man exclaimed to me in the interval: ‘Where did you find these blokes – they’re brilliant!’

Well, . . . we found them in Devon.