Live : Mountainface / C.F. Boneslum20th April 2018 : Telfords Warehouse, Chester
Chester's Telfords Warehouse was packed for the launch of local band Mountainface's second EP, Dead Lake. The band clearly have gathered a significant following, who seem to know all the words of the old songs, and most of those of the new.
CF Boneslum opened the night. A one man rolling fury of blues, he played a half hour set that was as raw and authentic as the rough-hewn planks that enclose the venue's compact stage - brilliant vivid music.
Mountainface's hour on stage mixed songs from their 2016 debut EP and Dead Lake, with some accomplished covers. A three piece, for this celebratory gig they grew to a jazz-fluid six member ensemble - adding keyboards, banjo and double bass to enhance their two guitar and mandolin sound.
As well as the swelling ranks, it was impossible not to notice how their performance has changed in the last twelve months. Having not seen them play for that long, it was as much a difference as if I had bought a cat, not really paid it much heed, and then suddenly discovered it had grown into a Sumatran tiger. There is a new maturity and dynamism in the music coupled to confident, charismatic stage presences - the latter especially noticeable in how guitarist Tom Winch has developed into a foot-stomping, folk-rock whirlwind. This is a folk band that doesn't just engage, but compels an audience to listen.
A literal but energised cover of Loudon Wainwright III's The Swimming Song highlighted Mountainface's verve. People danced, yelped and hollered along in equal appreciation from the start of the set to its finish. The new EP's songs were excellent live.
For a much demanded encore the whole band stepped down into the crowd and were quickly surrounded, unamplified musicians and audience members then taking joyful turns to trade verses from The Band's The Weight (Take a load off Annie). A natural moment of exuberant magic.
This is vibrant contemporary folk music full of life, and watching it played live with real joie de vivre is a hell of a lot of fun.