Cara Dillon – St George’s, Bristol

Wednesday 19th December, 2018

This really was a gig I couldn’t decide if I should go to or not. Grinchy me at more than one Christmas concert? It was also a relatively expensive ticket, at £25, for an artist I didn’t know and I wouldn’t normally risk that sort of cost. In the end I knew I would need some sort of distraction. Cara is known as a great folk voice, and I have discovered a real love of folk music in the past couple of years so I decided to take the risk.

I am glad I did. Cara has a fabulous voice, in the great storytelling folk tradition and the musicians playing with her (accordion, violin and guitars) were great. They did an instrumental piece that I loved. The religious songs aren’t for me, I have and have never had any faith, but this was a Christmas concert so I have to accept Christ and Mary as being part of it!

I found the two halves of the concert disjointed, the first half all Christmas joy and light, and the second darker. Emotionally it would have perhaps have made more sense the other way round, building from the loneliness to the joy to the world sentiment. Bringing out your own kids to play, sing and twirl along felt like a twee move (see, I am a cynical Grinch) and I didn’t feel it added anything. When you have no family to call your own, Christmas can be a very isolating and lonely time. What I would like to give my boy for Christmas, well for everyday, is something I can never give him; siblings, cousins, Uncles, his Nan, a family in who’s embrace he would be safe and loved. He has me and I provide as much shelter from the storm as I can, but alone it is very hard. I have little support for myself, making holding him up even harder. So, Cara, I’m sorry that I couldn’t find your children an adorable addition, but  it just felt like a reminder of all I can never have.

Then Cara dedicated a song to all those of us who may be finding Christmas difficult and I felt guilty for the above. It is so hard to remember, and find the strength to engage with the fact that happiness and joy in others is wonderful. Joy by osmosis is possible, it just takes a huge amount of effort and for those around you to be willing to share. You cannot hold hands by yourself.

There was a trio of tracks that left me in floods of tears, stunning covers of 2, 000 miles and River included. Right now, they just hurt my heart. It was, perhaps, the emotional release I needed. However hard it is to be alone, it is far harder to feel alone in a room full of people. Next year I think I’ll skip the Christmas concerts and accept December as a slow gig month!


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