Many a band, given the chance, might want a holiday away from each other, although the Batties have long fostered something of a family atmosphere.
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There were times here when the level of performance was more akin to two pals having a song together, rather than creating the spark of two musicians really on their mettle. Reid, however, does tend to sing out more in this situation and led several rousing choruses, chiefly in the extracts from the duo’s Jacobite song collection, The Rise and Fall o’ Charlie. Away from the mixing desk, van Sante is a capable guitarist and vocal
harmoniser, and his singing of The Rout of the Blues, an army mobilising song learned from the classic album of the same name by Robin & Barry Dransfield, was a welcome return for an often overlooked gem.
Most of the repertoire, however, came from Reid, who plays guitar as well as the more familiar accordion and keyboard in the duo, and showed his ready eye for song ideas. If some of these, notably his Hector & Bessie tale of working horses, erred on the couthy side, there was much evidence, too, of a well-practised way with a melody, with The Last Lighthouse Keeper, allowing for some help from Paul Simon’s The Boxer, fulfilling the ‘give ‘em something to hum on the way home’ dictum.
Star rating: ***