Rychard Carrington reports on Faustus - The Junction, Cambridge, 9 October 2012

Junction 2, The


Three years after their last visit, Faustus were back at J2 again. In between times they've received quite a lot of good attention, played a lot of gigs, recorded a new album to be released next year, and had eighteen months off. Much the same in character, though, Saul, Paul and Benji regaled us with traditional English songs of sex, death and woe, leavened by rather witty banter in between the numbers. Saul quotes us his favourite excerpt from the previous album's reviews, 'Nobody does misery like Paul Sartin'. 'Why are you laughing?' responds Paul, which of course was a friendly joke too. But one does wonder about the relationship between the unfortunate characters in the lyrics, the original composers (even trad songs must have been composed originally) and singers, and us tonight in this cosy theatre. It's salutary, at least, to be informed of just how wretched the olden days were.


Musically, the trio have power and grace. The combination of bouzouki, fiddle and accordion is neither the most common nor the most popular in music generally, but it is a very good one, and these three are certainly assured masters. Paul adds clarinet on occasion as well, which contributes extra flavour particularly nicely. They each take turns at lead vocals, and each compose dance numbers (not that dancing was feasible) which are exuberantly tuneful.


In fact Faustus are as as sound as any folk combo of their generation, and refreshingly committed to the tradition. Wortrhy successors, in fact, to Carthy & Swarbrick, who were here last week. Tewenty years ago it was uncertain whether the likes of Carthy and Swarb would have worthy successors - or even less worthy ones - in subsequent generations, but happily, albeit on a still small scale,  the tradition thrives.


Writer: Rychard Carrington