Patrick Widdess reports on Fen Song – The Shop, Cambridge, 5 February 2010

Fen Song
The Shop

Fen Song is a sequence of music and poetry inspired by the East Anglian landscape performed by poet Clare Crossman, singer-songwriter Penni Mclaren Walker and Bryan Causton on mandolin and bouzouki.
The performance began with apologies for the minimal lighting (no one had turned up to locate the light switches) but the white walls and single stage light casting shadows across the room created a simple ambiance allowing the audience to focus on what lay beyond the room in the rural beauty of the fens evoked in the forty minute sequence of music and poetry.
Clare’s delicately constructed poems explored the landscape of the fens ‘each view a mirage promising a border which turns another page.’ The audience met with a rich cast of characters; the Mill Man, whom history left behind in his disused mill, the enigmatic Fen Woman and the mythological Green Man. The poems were interspersed with music and Penni McLaren’s finely crafted folk songs delivered with a stirring voice you could imagine echoing across the fens, filling the open skies. The music eased effortlessly between gentle meandering melodies and pounding folk rhythms with guitar, mandolin and vocals working in powerful combination. The images, sounds and voices lingered long after the performance had finished.
    Fen Song is a triumphant collaboration between three performers whose distinct talents complement each other wonderfully to create an inspiring performance. In forty minutes the listener is transported to the fens of East Anglia and immersed in its landscape and culture. A tour of rural venues is being organised giving many more people the chance to experience this unique show. In an age where the natural world is increasingly under threat such things should be treasured.

Clare Crossman will be reading upstairs at the Maypole, Portugal Place on Sunday 28th February.

Writer: Patrick Widdess