Jamie Smith’s Mabon is the most exciting folk band around at the moment.
I can say that categorically after witnesses their astonishing gig at the Ashcroft Arts Centre, in Fareham.
Leaves, freshly picked up from the huge American plane tree in the grounds, were scattered in front of the stage in a nod to the new album’s title, Windblown. The soft, candle-like lighting set the atmosphere for the evening.
The stunning music produced by this five-piece - 60 per cent Welsh - folk group conjures up images of nature at it’s most wild, interspersed with moments of pure beauty and romance.
By turn it’s joyous and heart-wrenching - particularly in the Welsh speaking epic Caru Pum Merch.
Their intimate gig was one I will never forget.
From the uplifting opening of Huzzah - the first track on album - it was almost impossible not to dance.
Fiddler Oli Wilson-Dickson is sublime. He was able to capture every sort of emotion with his strings, which I found particularly powerful on the haunting Gordana Ranter. Drummer Iolo Whelan smiled and laughed the entire way through the set and his joy was infectious.
The Celtic infused wonder of Summer’s Lament is currently a favourite on BBC Radio Wales, and rightly so.
There were plenty of jigs - including Cake Bakers which sadly has not been recorded yet. The Eastern European gypsy romp, in Nikolai the Dancing Bear was magical.
Jamie Smith is the star of the show, folk’s accordionist equivalent of Mick Jagger - funny and cool throughout the performance. I would urge you to see this amazing show before the tour ends on December 5.
There is also a free download of Lady of the Woods available at jamiesmithsmabon.com.