India Electric Co. Frenchay Village Hall, Downend Folk Club, Bristol.

I didn’t even know the name of the band I was going to see until an hour before the show, so I clearly had no idea what to expect. At a folk club in a village hall, never been there before either.

My friend Kate was photographing this gig and invited me to go with her (she’s a lovely person and a very talented photographer) so despite being very tired from the gig the night before and being at work all day I went along.

This was my second folk club experience of #40gigs so I knew the atmosphere would be friendly and welcoming, and it was. We were so early that the hall was still being set up! We had a cup of tea listening to the sound check, which was a unique experience all by itself.

Support was from Jack Cookson, a Radio 2 folk award nominee. He played a short set, which was stronger towards the end. The final 2 tracks, both new, were a lot stronger, perhaps showing the development of his songwriting? He’s a very talented young man, who can play the heck outta an acoustic guitar. One to keep an eye on if you like folk/acoustic music I think.

Then main act. In 2 halves (folk clubs are so civilised, you get a halftime break) India Electric Co. I honestly had no idea what to expect, so when they were introduced as being, by their own admission “sometimes folk, sometimes not” I sort of knew I was going to like them. Which I did. Enormously. Cole has a great voice and Joe appears to be able to master any instrument you put in front of him. He played violin/fiddle (what is the difference anyhow?!), accordion and guitar last night but also plays keys apparently. Being multi talented & really lovely appear to be traits of folk musicians I am discovering.

The music was lush, filling the hall with gorgeous melodies. They moved between styles and genres with ease, sometimes in the middle of a song. When talented musicians play like that its such a joy to just admire them. Despite a few technical issues (hey, even Elbow had them guys) the sound and lighting were really impressive. The volunteers who run Downend Folk Club should be rightly proud of the work they put in.

Watching the interplay between Joe and Cole was fantastic, almost like jazz musicians, communicating through the music and being totally in tune with each other. I also loved that when a song was emotional, Cole inhabited it so fully he had to take his glasses off and put them in his pocket. They did an amazing Springsteen cover that was a joy to watch as well as hear. It was beautiful. They also played songs based on poetry, where else do you get songs inspired by WH Auden than a folk club? Parachutes was a total standout track, all the feels going on with that one. In the encore they invited Jack up to join them and that was a real treat. Collaborate more lads!

Afterwards we had a chat with them all & Cole ended up trying on my glasses which is definitely a first for #40gigs and I doubt will be repeated! Thank you Jack, Joe, Cole, all of Downend Folk Club and Kate for making gig 25 another memorable and special night.

The contrast between 24 and 25 couldn’t be greater, one a crowd of thousands in a forest, one few dozen in a village hall. But #40gigs has always been about voyages of discovery, supporting musicians and finding new music. Folk clubs in village halls are as much a part of that. I appear to be a proper folkie convert now!

25 down. 15 to go.