Event review: Belshazzar’s Feast at the Oval Tavern, Sunday 7th December

By - Friday 12th December, 2014

Anne Giles enjoys traditional carols, bum notes and festive folk music

Paul Sartin on fiddle. Photo author’s own.

My husband Steve and I went along to this gig at East Croydon’s Oval Tavern recently. We know the musicians very well. They are Paul Sartin, who is a singer, oboist, violinist, composer and arranger. He performs and records extensively with BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards winners and nominees Bellowhead, Belshazzar’s Feast and Faustus, amongst other things. He has an excellent singing voice, having spent five years singing with a cathedral choir. The other musician is Paul Hutchinson, who is well known from his work with Hoover the Dog, Karen Tweed and the Playford Liberation Front. He is a superlative accordion player with a unique style.

On this occasion, they played songs and tunes, interspersed with a lot of humour, occasionally mixing a morris tune with the tune of a well known Christmas carol. There were a lot of rather naughty comments thrown in. Some songs had a chorus, which we were encouraged to sing along with, including one about beer and sheep – work that one out!

They played a tune from the first edition of the Complete Dancing Master, which was preceded by the tune of the carol It Came Upon the Midnight Clear, after which Paul Sartin sang a lovely carol. Then there was a waltz and a tune by Thomas Hardy, followed by the tune of Believe me, if all those endearing young charms with a deliberate bum note thrown in from time to time, which had us all in stitches!

Home Lad Home was moving in this time of First World War commemoration

We were then given song sheets with traditional Christmas carols for the second half. Prior to the carols they played a tune which they had written for the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee a couple of years ago and then a tune by the poet John Clare. Then we all sang along to Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem and Good King Wenceslas. Paul Sartin sang a song after that, and then we listened to them playing a melody to the oldest traditional dance and it was here that we saw Paul playing the most unusual instrument – a Swanee whistle!

Just before playing their last tunes, Paul Sartin sang a very moving song, with words written in 1916, called Home Lad Home. Well – with all the commemorations we have had of the First World War, this was very apt.

Finishing by singing a song about ice cream to the tune of O Sole Mio – better known in recent times as ‘Just one Cornetto’ – had us all in stitches again. Wonderful musicians!

Anne Giles

Anne Giles

I grew up in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the daughter of an Anglo-Argentine mother and English father. I went to an English school and worked for a British company out there before coming to live in the U.K. I spent many years teaching Spanish in adult education in various centres in Croydon Borough and have got to know so many different areas – North and South. We have been living in Selsdon since 1989 and I love it. I feel passionately about Croydon and have spent many years writing blogs – firstly for the Croydon Advertiser, then the Croydon Guardian, and eventually my own blog entitled “The Good Life in Croydon”. I am very much involved in the community, attending regular meetings with the Croydon Community Police Consultative Group and am also a member of the British Transport Police PACT (Police & Community Together) Team.

More Posts - Website