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Norma Waterson & Eliza Carthy, Tolbooth, Stirling

You get more than a concert with Norma Waterson and her daughter, Eliza Carthy.

Along with the songs and fiddle tunes on which their reputation rests comes something akin to a social history lesson as they put each item into the context of how they came to learn it or how the composer came to write it.

The informality this is done with takes it away from the lecture theatre, and into some long ago front parlour – or as the stories change locations, their tour bus. With asides about blizzards and punctures en route and the women's husband/dad, Martin Carthy contributing the occasional piece of back-seat driving from his rear-of-stage position on guitar in the discreetly swinging band, the image of a family outing becomes stronger as the night wears on.

Waterson may not be as mobile as she was before she was struck by the serious illness that delayed their appointment in Stirling by two years. But she remains a robust, clear singer whose sometimes slightly ragged partnership with her daughter is all part of the gig's charm. Her singing of Brother Can You Spare a Dime, learned, rather surprisingly, from Ewan MacColl, and Poor Wayfaring Stranger was typical of the relaxed authority she brings to a range of material, which paid homage to songwriters from Gus Khan to Loudon Wainwright III and Richard Thompson as well as drawing on traditional songs including Eliza's translation of a Manx lullaby. It was mother and daughter's casual but plaintive duetting on Careless Love that produced the highlight of a warmly presented evening.


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