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Nick Drake

Drake Tribute

Stars pay homage to folk legend
17 May 2009 - Birmingham Town Hall was packed to the rafters last night as a whole host of stars took to the stage to pay tribute to Nick Drake.

The evening was curated by the singer's manager and producer, Joe Boyd, aided by arranger Robert Kirby.

Performers included Robyn Hitchcock, Camille O’Sullivan, Martha Wainwright, Graham Coxon, Beth Orton, Camille O’Sullivan, Stuart Murdoch and Vashti Bunyan. 

They performed and paid homage to Drake's albums, Five Leaves Left, Bryter Later and Pink Moon.

Part of Birmingham Town Hall’s English Originals festival, the tribute to Drake was even more poignant since his home was just a few miles up the road in Tanworth In Arden.

Dreamy and evocative

Playing under the watchful eyes of Boyd and Robert Kirby, each performer gave their hearts and bared their souls in a way that would have made Drake proud. Delicate and intricate, Vashti Bunyan’s take on Which Will was magical, whilst Hitchcock, Coxon and Murdoch’s performances were essentially perfect copies of the singer's original songs.

Dreamy and evocative, sad, yet never depressing, songs were given new energy as Wainwright and Orton struck the right balance between power and fragility on Things Behind The Sun and Pink Moon.

The first half of the show culminated in a rousing and uplifting version of Poor Boy from Bryter Later which saw Harper Simon taking the lead, backed by Wainwright, Orton, O’Sullivan and Kate St John. It was truly captivating.

The second half of the show was even more intimate. Kirby’s band weaved a beautiful version of Northern Sky, while Hitchcock and Coxon combined their not insignificant talents on wonderful working of Free Ride. From here on in the show got better and better.

Standing the test of time

The encore saw everyone on stage for Voice From The Mountain and a standing ovation followed. Despite the full house, Birmingham Town Hall still felt intimate and the capacity audience all went home with great big smiles on their faces.

The songs of Nick Drake stand the test of time and are still poignant 35 years on. One can only imagine the greatness that the singer would have achieved had he lived.

Martin Poyntz-Roberts

Have your say

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Comments so far

Don, Dassett Hills
Riverman is timeless and haunting.

Robert Kirby. The Milky Way
Thank you for this review. I have to add a correction. The beautiful string arrangement for Northern Sky that you select for praise was written by our amazing Musical Director, Kate St. John, not by me. Robert Kirby.

Robert Kirby - The Milky Way
Chacun a son Gout. If I had thought it was a "lets copy Nick" gig I would have been miles away. Camille sang from the soul. If she took prompts it was due to her skill - everyone is in 5/4. She was an Angel and Nick would have loved her.

Andy, Stafford
In defence of Camille O'Sullivan, I have to say that I thought Riverman was one of the standout performances of the evening, Martha Wainwright even commented on being a little intimidated by having to follow it.

Wendy, Birmingham
Brilliant, Kate St John's contribution should not be overlooked. I disagree with the comments on Camille O'Sullivan who gave beautifully rich performances with her lovely vocal-in my opinion. Greatly enjoyable evening.

Tanworth in Arden
One of those life defining moments. Danny Thompson is pure genius. The musicians were outstanding. I thought Camille O'Sullivan's performances were weak and she took prompts throughout her performances. I presumed she had been called in at a late stage but why give her Riverman to sing is beyond me? Other than that, couldn't fault the evening.

Eleanor, Birmingham
This was truly a remarkable event, and the artists performed Nick's songs in such areverential and respectful way. fantastic - best show so far this year!

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