RICHARD DAWSON | London, Barbican Hall

Just before offering up the evening’s final treat of ‘Ogre’ from the 2017 album, Peasant, Richard Dawson joked that “time flies when you start with a forty-minute song”. His varied and energetic concert at Barbican Hall began with the undulating, probing, extensive first track from last year’s album, The Ruby Cord, which transfixed the audience.

Dawson played four more songs from The Ruby Cord, with ‘Thicker than Water’ providing a lively contrast to ‘The Hermit’. His entertaining introductions to songs like ‘The Fool’ and ‘Horse and Rider’ were a clear reminder of the sheer charm that punctuates his simultaneously unassuming and illuminating song-writing.

His accomplished band of drummer Andrew Cheetham, harpist Rhodri Davies, violinist Angharad Davies and keyboard-player Sally Pilkington brought immense levels of energy to the performance. The standing ovation was wholly justified: as the five musicians bowed in unison, the ambitious scale of this concert was clearly evident.

Me Lost Me provided the perfect support, playing songs that are expansive and philosophical, intercut with honest and humorous notes from the artist: “That’s the most optimistic song in the set, so buckle up. This one’s called ‘The end of the world’!” Her last song’s repeated word of ‘together’ seemed to perfectly fit a set whose keynote was striking humanity.

Richard Dawson is touring the US and UK 28 March – 6 May 2023, playing Barbican Hall on 5 May 2023.

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