Friday night was damp, murky and miserable. The traffic was slow, the M62 having had long delays between J25 and J26, and arriving in Leeds, despite the sat-nav getting us close to the venue, we struggled to find it. Still, having won a couple of tickets to see Belinda O'Hooley and Heidi Tidow I was not going to let these frustrations undermine my underlying good mood.
All Hallows Church is situated in that warren of streets between Burley Road and Hyde Park, where you can be yards from where you want to be - as we were - but alleys and walls conspire to block your route.We finally made it after a few minutes circling the streets, spotting a larger, lighter modern building.
We walked in to a large airy room, which acts as place of worship, meeting room and, as in tonight's case, concert venue. We were immediately made to feel very welcome, a far cry from some other, larger venues. Our hands stamped, we trotted over to the bar, bought a couple of pints of Elland Brewery 'Beyond the Pale' - 1872 Porter was also on - for which we were asked to pay what we felt was right.
A few minutes later, O'Hooley and Tidow emerged on to the stage. It was the second time I'd seen them, but the first time for our Tom, lead guitarist in a metal band and whose musical tastes are more at that end of the spectrum. But, hey, if he didn't enjoy it, the beer was an unexpected bonus.
Last time I'd seen them, it was at Bury earlier this year. Great as that gig was, this time they seemed more relaxed and it came over in 2 excellent sets which featured songs mainly from their last 2 albums, 'The Fragile' and this year's classic 'The Hum'.
We had great versions of 'Two Mothers', 'Peculiar Brood', 'Gentleman Jack', 'The Hum' and 'The Tallest Tree'. They also treated us to 'Summat's Brewin', which shows their love for real ale and would be an ideal theme tune for my blog! Stand out track for me on the night was probably 'Like Horses', from 'The Hum'. Our Tom was particularly taken with an acapella traditional Irish song the name of which I'm sorry but I can't remember, which showed off the quality of their harmonies. Looks like they're winning the lad over!
They also introduced us to their latest song 'The Pixie', which like most of their songs has a great tale behind it. This concerns a diminutive lady-hence 'Pixie'-called Daisy Daking who taught battle-worn troops in the First World War how to morris dance. Like the majority of their songs, Belinda's superb keyboard playing provided more than just an accompaniment, instead setting the tone and mood.
The stories and the banter between the two kept us entertained between the songs, and at half time and after the show they mingled comfortably with the appreciative crowd, selling the odd CD. Two of the best performers on the current folk scene, but very down-to-earth and approachable.
Talking to one of the organisers there is a group of 5 people who put on gigs from time to time, and now I know where it is, I will keep my eye out for other gigs at this very friendly place, next one is February with Belinda on her own with Jim Boyes.
We drove back to Brighouse, 'The Hum' playing. Our Tom was analysing it, as if justifying why he liked it. We'd had a good night....
And here's 'The Pixie'....