Caught Live – Will Varley – Live at the Smugglers Festival
Will Varley has been firmly on my playlist since I first got my hands on his album ‘As the Crow Flies’ back in 2013, however many ‘round these parts have had the pleasure of hearing his songs for a good few years now.
It’s not so much his soft worldly vocals or wandering, sometime dreamy guitar riffs that get him stuck in your mind (although both are truly great) it’s his ability to mix some seriously dark tales about love, religion, politics and the cruelty of humanity with light-hearted belly laughing songs on the same subjects, on the same album.
Having taken his guitar on a tour across the UK as well as supporting the legendary Proclaimers this summer, (he also has a tour with Frank Turner coming up, details on his website) I was finally able to catch him live at this year’s Smugglers Festival in Great Mongeham, Kent.
Starting with a little banter to warm the crowd up, Will, wasted no time breaking into some of his older tracks from debut album ‘Advert Soundtracks’. He followed with crowd favourites from ‘As the Crows Flies’ before parading some new material for us all to enjoy.
While his ability as a folk star was never in doubt, Will’s sometimes mesmerising ability to get people to listen was in full force, even those very drunk people who seem to talk at an alarming volume through every band (all festivals have them) where silenced by his storytelling.
His years on the road has given him the skill to keep both those who are virgins to his live shows and those who are ‘Varley Veterans’ engaged as he twists his older songs into new ones, never alienating either part of his audience but instead uniting us all into a ‘you had to have been there’ moment. One minute we were laughing along with him, the next reflecting on the darkness of the human soul, such is the ability of his musical craftsmanship.
The end result was one of those magic moments at a festival that stay with you for years to come, that feeling that you have seen something unique and fantastic that no one else has, something only a true bard can do.
If you haven’t seen Mr. Varley live yet I can’t recommend him highly enough and if you have, I’m sure you will already be checking out the information for his next concert. An amazing young artist who writes and sings with the skill of some of the greatest story tellers both past and present.