It was Friday the Thirteenth. And maybe just maybe, looking back to March of this year, the date was actually trying to tell us something. For when folk band The Trials of Cato played that night in front of a packed Hyde Park Book Club audience in Leeds it turned out to be the York-based live music promoter Please Please You’s last show of the year. Within a week the country was in complete lockdown due to the Coronavirus pandemic and the live music industry was immediately brought to a shuddering halt. The rest is horrible history.
But now more than nine months after that event, Please Please You are putting on another gig. It is a cause for huge celebration though in saying that I am very mindful that us folks here in North Yorkshire are in the relatively luxurious position – well, for the time being at least – of being subject to “only” Tier 2 restrictions.
Here, for example, and unlike huge swathes of the rest of the country, we can still visit venues such as restaurants, pubs, cinemas, and museums. This list includes leisure and entertainment venues into which category The Crescent firmly falls. There are rules, of course, there are rules, and Please Please You’s invitation for us all to attend A Christmas Party comes with a raft of caveats in the form of what are by now the customary regulations.
We must attend in our own household groups; we must be seated; drinks have to be ordered to tables via online booking; there will be “no mingling with other groups”; there will also be no “singing along, dancing, cheering and calling out”, in strict accordance with current Government guidelines; and there will be no “encore, even if you want one.”
But despite these stipulations, it is a gig and for that we must thank both Please Please You and The Crescent Community Venue for making it happen (along with several other similarly socially distanced shows that have been put on here this month). It is only through their energy, commitment, and the efficacy of their collaborative planning and preparation that we can all be seated here tonight.
And, of course, huge thanks must also go to the musicians who are performing here tonight. They are two local men for whom the descriptor of singer-songwriter is neither accurate nor does their individual talent suitable justice. The first on stage is Danny Trew Barton appearing in the guise of his musical project Wolf Solent, followed after the interval by Christopher J Wilkinson driving his own solo vehicle Tremulous Monk. Both men have been heavily involved in the music scene here in York for a number of years now, either flying solo or with various local bands including The Federals, The Illness and Cowgirl (Barton), and The Falling Spikes (Wilkinson). And each typifies that deep layer of prodigious musical talent who just go about their creative business with the minimum of fuss and what would often appear to be scant commercial recognition or reward. They each play 45-minute sets, individually replete with what is an often hypnotic eloquent beauty.
That everyone stays to the end and unlike many other live concerts then don’t immediately head to the exit – choosing instead to stay seated and speak (from a suitable social distance, of course) to friends they have not seen in ages – says much about the evening, not only in terms of its musical acumen but also the social and emotional ties that bind people together on such occasions but which have also been severely atrophied in these most difficult and despairing of times.
Photos: Simon Godley
More photos from this show can be found HERE