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REVIEW by Fred Hall

Bob Fox - Dartford Folk Club, April 8, 2003

It must have been the prospect of seeing Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United taking on the mighty Real Madrid that accounted for the comparatively small turn-out for Bob Fox's appearance in Dartford. More fool them, their decision to stay at home in front of the box meant they missed an entertaining night out in the company of a singer-guitarist on top form.

This gig was three nights away from the end of a 22-date nationwide tour (and six days away from a flight to Australia for festival dates) and Fox was nicely warmed up, right from the kick-off, with a song guaranteed to win over any folk club audience, "The celebrated working man".

Unsurprisingly for a singer from the north-east, a good part of Fox's repertoire concerns the region's proud mining history. Most deal with it seriously; not so this opening song, the subject of which brags that he can do any job with consummate skill - just so long as he doesn't have to go down the pit and is allowed to do the work in the bar-room of the local.

Fox's easy manner, Geordie accent and prowess on the acoustic guitar make for an impressive attacking front line which never fails to score, home or away, and throughout the evening he had the small, but enthusiastic, audience singing lustily along with chorus after chorus.

He's a man who can tell a story, too, preceding each song with a potted history of the piece, it's writer or the area from which it originated - and all told with great humour. Introducing "The village fool", who walked around the village greeting all manner of fauna and flora with a cheery "Good morning", Fox said: "I don't think he was that daft, it usually costs me a bit of money to get into that sort of state!"

Over the course of two sets he played traditional and contemporary songs from the likes of Euan McColl, Bernie Parry, Benny Graham, Vin Garbutt and fellow County Durham man, Jez Lowe, infusing each with his own style and making them his own. He drew heavily from his two most recent albums, with "Champion at keeping them rolling", "Greek lightning", "The rambling rover" and the beautiful "The Galway shawl" plucked from "Dreams Never Leave You" and "The bonny Gateshead lass", "The South Medomsley strike" and "Byker Hill" from "Dark To The Sky", the album he released late last year with his band The Hush.

And more is promised for later this year as, with a new contract with Topic tucked in his guitar case, he's already working on songs for a new album. One of those, "Child of mine" was the song he finished with at Dartford, a song he used to sing for his daughter and now sings for his first grandchild. It's a lovely song and it was easy to see how much it means to him.

So, it was the absentees' loss - they missed Bob Fox, on the top of his game and getting a great away win, in favour of seeing a struggling United, also on an away fixture, but getting a good tonking. Those of us at Dartford Folk Club made the right decision.

Fred Hall © 2003

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Dartford Working Mens Club
Essex Road

EVERY TUESDAY   8.30 - 11.00

FLOOR SINGERS WELCOME (Advisable to ring for a spot)

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13 Apr 2003
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