• Chris Farlie

Midwinterfest 2020: Day 2 - Maisie & The Thompsons

Following the Haley Sisters was never going to be easy, I'm sure even Roy Orbison's hologram must have flickered a few times at the thought of having to do so on their arena tour so heaven knows what Maisie & The Thompsons thought.

So it was that the final set of Day 2 fell to Maisie & The Thompsons who as it turned out were a sort of blend of three bands rolled up into one, the first an early 80's style, late new wave, pop creation with a penchant for Jackson Brown, the second definitely had more of an Americana feel, maybe in tribute to the surroundings, but carried off with some aplomb and thirdly were the bits that defied classification of which there were a few. They had something of an unusual stage manner, I've never known a show stop so that each band member could share a fun fact with me and i'm not sure I'll ever see another but somehow this quirkiness seemed to define them and on the night it somehow seemed to work

Starting with a strumming guitar and some nervously sweet harmonies, Maisie and The Thompsons opened their set with "Gave Up The Dream" which then broadened out into an appropriately dreamy piece of Americana with some nice guitar lines running through it. With a band consisting of 3 teachers, and the second part of the title being "now I'm working hard" this seemed to be a nod to life's cruel realities.

Mick Harding then provided the drum intro into and things got really confusing as lead vocals switched to the guitarist and the previous singer moved to his keyboard setup. The addition of a piano to the mix gave them a touch of the sound of Al Stuart, "The World Folding In", from their debut EP, had a lovely keyboard sound in a slightly unobtrusive way. The originals kept on coming with the distinctly Jackson Browne influenced tune on "Out Of Hand" from their debut "Written Fron The Start" EP which saw the vocals switch back to the keyboardist.

One of the less easy to classify songs came with "Cut Like a Knife", it had something of an eccentric folky guitar riff and some neat interplay in the lines of the lyrics. In something of a strange turnaround, the stage then emptied by 50%, the bass player moved to keyboards and things headed off in an Americana direction as they delivered a version of Jason Isbell's "Elephant" which seemed to fit in well with the rest of their material. It was a bold choice and the cut down version of the band delivered it with some real feeling. After a quick switch back to their original positions it was time for the show to continue, with some more 3 part harmonies that then developed into something of a sub Pettyish tune, "Life Is Too Heavy To Carry" which came with the addition of a neat organ sound and something of a guitar solo.

The final song from their debut EP, was the uptempo "Everybody Thinks", an early 80's piece of .pleasant punchy pop. Their set continued in a poppy sort of way, "Lonely Hearts Today" a comment on the world of Internet dating, was a little wordy and a bit free form in terms of tune, though well received by the late night crowd. After a bit of a long "fun fact" gap, things moved on with a song asking the question "What If The Worlds Not Made Of Glass?". Closing out with another somewhat eccentric guitar riff led song "We're Just Coasting!" ended with something of a Scottish reel for no apparent reason, it got the crowd clapping so possibly served its purpose..

One final song finished the evening and it was back to Americana for a spirited well delivered cover of "The Weight" on which they seemed a lot more at ease. It received a very warm reception and proved to be the perfect way to conclude Day 2 as there was something of a final Saturday singalong.

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