REVIEW: Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin The Roundhouse, Butser Ancient Farm

Choir appeal for new head

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You know it’s going to be an unusual gig when you walk past Iron Age houses, goats and animal pelts on the way to the venue.

But Butser Ancient Farm, on a balmy spring evening, proved the perfect setting for the acclaimed Devon folk duo Phillip Henry and Hannah Martin.

It was the final night on their tour of unusual venues across the UK, which included a railway museum, a gaol and even a cave.

The set, the first time we’d seen them perform, was story-based, beautifully woven with tales of heartbroken opera-singers, female sailors and secret gardeners.

They opened with the goose-bump inducing trip hop piece, No Victory, with Phil on harmonica and beatbox and Hanna on fiddle.

From then on they wound their way through traditional English folk with a modern twist, seamlessly switching from banjos, guitars, a 24-string Indian slide guitars, violin, mouth organ and even an ankle tambourine.

They are so accomplished, you could see them talking to each other with their eyes while playing. It was magical.

Phil’s rousing Underground Railroad, using just the harmonica to drive a steamtrain, was fantastic.

Nailmakers’ Strike was another highlight.And Last Broadcast, with Phil on 24 string sitar-sounding Indian slide guitar, left a lump in my throat. They sang some of the words from war correspondent Marie Colvin’s final piece published before she was killed in Syria in 2012.

Melancholic Landlocked perfectly showcased Hannah’s soaring, pitch-perfect vocals and was my personal favourite. Although, almost every song- all new to me - blew me away.

It was such a special night, even a tiny housemartin joined in to tweet from its nest, just above our heads in the roundhouse.

Look out for them under their new stage name Edgelarks.