Often, folk and,world music gigs tend to be more an intimate gathering of a couple,of hundred friends than a formal concert; certainly the mood Imagined Village engendered even with a very creditable Birmingham Monday audience tended more to the cozy than the demonstrative.
Seemingly more surefooted with world music and modern folk than with older classic material, the technical brilliance is plain to see especially when all ten musicians were onstage; I cannot help but think though that the combination of mixer and venue weren’t quite the equal of the task presented to them.
Playing without traditional support, the evening was split into two – a shorter opening set where the residents of the village played in smaller groups, followed by a full set of some ninety minutes. Oh, and a birthday cake for Martin Carthy who shows few signs of slowing down as the years pass. The highlights of the main set were Cold Haily Rainy Night (of course), opening the stage to a pair of Sikh Dancers and the wonderfully constructed Bending the Dark produced for the Music 20×12 Olympic commission.
Bringing individually talented and experienced contributors together in the world music tradition of collaboration can raise the question of whether the total is greater than the sum of the parts. At the moment, despite a very strong performance and successful new album release, one gets a sense that they still aren’t quite reaching their full potential. So whilst the Imagined Village are going places there is still a sense that the best is yet to come – so watching them take the journey will be still be rewarding.
Review by Ian Andrews