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Cambridge Folk Festival 2023: Live Review

So who would have thought that esteemed L.A. hip-hop rappers, Arrested Development, were folk music? Fun trying to imagine the meeting when that was first pitched, it proved a sainted decision, the roof of the marquee fair lifted off into the stratosphere. New, its true, to me, bar reputation, I dare say the same may have been true for the inquisitive crowd filling the area, perhaps the oldest, greyest and whitest audience the band have ever encountered. (Sorry, Cambridge, it’s true, however much the demographic shifts slowly downward.) Within seconds it became clear this was going to be talked about for years, as the crowd exploded, a heaving sea of glee, the stage not dissimilar. An extraordinarily tight band, with the guitarist, J. J. Boogie, toting the best beard, and some of the best riffs, of the weekend, that aspect alone was stupendous. But add in the turntables of One Love, capable also of some fiery rap, and the vocal skills of Fareedah Aleem and April Allen, and the inevitable focus of frontman and group originator, and main vocalist, Speech, and a splendid time was both guaranteed, gauged and given. Aleem won extra points aplenty from the aghast amazement of observers, as she threw her frame about the stage with a remarkable abandon. Wonderful, wonderful stuff, and may I now say my line about how, for many present, their earlier understanding of hip-hop may have been that gait between hip replacement surgeries….? OK, maybe not. But what a show, how to headline and some.

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