It was hard to believe there was anything going on at Bishops House at all when I arrived (admittedly, late- it being my first time there and estimating set times etc), with the 15th century house on the edge of a park in Sheffield shrouded in darkness and with no audible noise emanating from it.
But a light through a window convinced me to proceed, and I’m so glad I did. Sheffield micro-promoters Sonido Polifonica bring the experimental, freak folk, electronica and other such delights to the good people of Sheffield, and as such had brought David Jaycock, ably assisted by long term collaborator Andrew Burge, and Nottingham primitive spoken word duo Cracked Hands.
Set up in literally a room of the house (and sometime museum), lighting came from a couple of standard lamps and about 30 or so chairs set out – because that’s all the room would hold rather than it being the number of tickets sold, it made for a Beautiful intimate evening.
Cracked Hands delivered a set of spoken word poetry, full of imagery, clever wordplay, humour and pathos, backed with this sometimes ambient, sometimes mor direct guitar accompaniments that had the crowd enthralled.
It was Jaycock most has come to see, and he was charming and self deprecating and told stories and anecdotes to go along with his songs. Armed with three electric guitars and supported in his endeavours by Andrew Burge on bass, they tackled songs from his canon, including from his latest album Hold. Star. Return., replacing the synths with loops and effects on guitar and taking it from one place to another, along with older songs, songs from the pairs record and folk numbers.
To watch them work together from such a close distance was magical, with nods here and words there to signal moving through sections and changes in chord, and the amount of skill and thought involved was a joy to behold. I wasn’t alone thinking that, the crowd as a whole loved every moment, and all the artists involved seemed to respond to the crowd and the iconic place they were being housed in.
Equally as joyous was to find a community of people who support the outer edges of musical genres, and promoters who are prepared to put that on, especially in such surroundings. I will be back, for sure.