Peatbog Faeries play Malvern – Céilidh at the Cube

Malvern youth centre has been saved from development (which is newspeak for someone making money out of something that was owned by the community – in this case planning to build executive housing) and renamed The Cube so no one is confused any more – at least into thinking it is solely for the use of young people.

The Peatbog Faeries are a band from the Isle of Skye. My husband spent two summers on Skye in the ‘80s doing his undergraduate geology mapping project so we thought it would be lovely to see them. Plus we like folk music and punk music and Peatbog Fairies seem to mix the two rather well, from their YouTube videos. The weekend before the concert, however, husband was summarily summoned to New York State to sort something out for a lab so I went on my own.

A last minute purchase of a Black Watch tartan mini kilt (£3 in Sue Ryder) was teamed with black leggings, boots, sleeveless wine-coloured satin top (layered over a vest to stop it clinging – at this age one needs considerable underpinnings, else one’s chest is liable to cause concussion when dancing) and leather jacket. It was pissing with rain and I didn’t fancy walking back alone, late at night, so I drove. How splendidly middle class, middle aged.

On my own was a bit of a misrepresentation as Malvern is the perfect place to always run in to someone you know, after living – and working, and being out and about – here for a while. I could tell the gig was massive as it was sold out and I only recognised around ten per cent of the audience.

Lovely friends from West Malvern scooped me up and we stood together in the already crowded hall while support duo The Very Grimm Brothers (Adrian Mealing and John Denton) brought their brand of wordplay and guitar to us, the topical politics going down well – “- fucking PLEBS!

The Peatbog Faeries’ music centres on pipes and fiddle. The pipes were sometimes bagpipes, sometimes tin whistle, sometimes something longer and woodenish (you can tell I know a lot about music). It was all superb. In addition to pipes and fiddle they had excellent guitar, drums, keyboard and bass. They played Scottish reels that reeled off into punk, jazz funk, calypso and prog ambient (if there is such a thing). It’s a strange mixture if you stop to think about it but I didn’t at the time because I was too busy dancing – or, more correctly, “dancing”. We were around a third of the way back in the packed, sauna-hot hall, with some of the more genteel representatives of the area – the front few rows were bouncing madly but back in our parts people were standing, twitching politely in time to the beat – so I had my own little space around me as I waved my arms, pogo’d and clapped. Sometimes I managed all three at once but then my vest came untucked which amused my more sedate friends (one of whom has just gone through gruelling cancer treatment so was glad to stand through a gig, let alone leap about like a lunatic). There’s nothing like vest tucking-in while pogoing in strobe fluorescent lighting for added entertainment. Mind you, I needn’t have worried about my attire given some of the outfits in the venue.

The band have been on the road for a while and looked a bit tired but pleased by Malvern’s enthusiasm and they played with enormous energy even when the dry ice machine was too frisky, setting off the smoke alarm. The lighting was spot on (apart from the fluorescent vest-wrestling incident, and that was entirely personal) and the whole show brilliant fun. By the time they came back for their encore I was wondering how I could possibly dance any more ever and would I even make it back to the car without a lie-down but I managed, even though my boots were squelching full of sweat.

Great céilidh: recommended – if you get the chance to see the Peatbog Faeries, wear your dancing shoes!

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