Beltane Fire… The Back Story
Beltane Fire (UK) have been around since 1983. By 1986, they had released three singles and an album called Different Breed and toured with Marillion on their Misplaced Childhood tour. In addition, they played shows with Ian Dury And The Blockheads and Adam Ant! Sadly, I somehow missed them on the Marillion tour, so until recently were a band I had no idea about.
A few days before they were due in Edinburgh, I was contacted by a promoter saying that there was a band that might interest me playing on the Saturday. I promptly checked them out. I was impressed greatly by what I heard on You Tube and loved that the bassist had a stand-up double bass. There was a rockabilly look and sound to what I saw and heard. Therefore, I decided that I should head down to Bannerman’s Rock Bar to properly check them out.
The Band Live Onstage
From the very first track “Night Fishing”, I was not only captivated, but my feet were tapping and my heading nodding in time to the music. There was a Big Country feel and sound, yet musically it stood alone from that as well. The audience seemed to be totally into it right away.
“Different Breed” had a darker vibe to it as well as a progressive element showing why they probably fitted in on the Marillion tour. I noticed just how strong a voice singer Clint Bradley has.
There was some technical problems after the second song, but it was all handled with humour and banter. One person shouted the famous line “everything louder than everything else” to which guitarist Carlo Edwards mentioned Deep Purple and how “Made In Japan” was a great album. A man of fine taste. “The Old Ways” kicked in and there were people actually dancing. Twirling each other around and having fun! This kept up right through the wonderful “Captain Blood”, which starts a bit ominous then breaks out into a rum soaked pirate jig. The audience were having a blast. I didn’t notice anyone without a smile on their face.
Clint remarked saying that at the moment they don’t really know what they are doing or going, but just out to have some fun! If they were enjoying themselves half as much as the crowd, then I think they have accomplished that.
“Run” seemed to me to have a slight Steve Rothery sound. Not sure if meant or not. Talking of the guitarist Carlo most of his solos were tasteful, not flashy but with mood and meaning, his best in my view on (I think) “Excalibur” which was full of feeling.
“Fortune Favours The Brave” was magnificent. Best song of the night for me. Uplifting, Celtic, folk inspired rockabilly with as infectious a chorus you are likely to hear, especially in a live environment. Possibly the closest track to Big Country but still without doubt sounding like Beltane Fire. The audience loved it! “The Poacher” came very close to stealing song of the night. With its “woahs” and beat it is probably impossible to stand still.
Bassist Steve Whitehouse is an absolute hoot to watch. With a perma-grin and straddling his bass whether on stage or on the floor beside the audience, he is captivating. I loved the sound he got during “Fire Cry”. Gives them a distinctive sound to everyone else in the rock, metal and prog world, especially at the moment.
I felt like kicking myself at the end for having missed these guys when they supported Marillion back in the day. I am delighted they have come back so those who did miss them first time have a chance to make amends! A show full of great songs about pirates, King Arthur and illegal activities in an array of style merged together to make a terrific sound. Don’t miss them if they come your way.
Setlist (as best noted)1, Night Fishing/ 2. Different Breed/ 3. The Old Ways/ 4. Captain Blood/ 5. Uther’s Son/ 6. Run/ 7. Billy Ruffian (?)/ 8. Excalibur (?)/ 9. Fortune Favours The Brave/ 10. Far Cry/ 11. The Poacher/ 12. Norton Spirit (?)