Triumphant Bellowhead in Harrogate farewell

Bellowhead perform at Harrogate International Centre
Bellowhead perform at Harrogate International Centre

Folk giants Bellowhead thrilled a sell-out crowd at Harrogate's International Centre.

The 11-piece band, led by indefatigable frontman Jo Boden, are currently playing shows across the country as part of an epic farewell tour, due to end in May.

An eager crowd filled the comfortable soft seats of the HIC, but with hindsight this gig might have been better placed on the seat-less Stray - this audience didn't want to sit comfortably. It wanted to dance.

And dance we did, filling the space between stage and seats, as well as stairs, Bellowhead's signature toe-tapping tunes sending the capacity crowd into a frenzy.

Boden is the focal point of this act. It all revolves around him. Other band members take the opportunity to introduce the odd shanty, but his stage presence is extraordinary - you can't help but watch him.

Although, as my fellow, er, Bellowheader pointed out, you could watch a band member per song, such is the movement and variety on stage.

Special mention must be made of Sam Sweeney, who plays what he wants, when he wants - what talent!

The tunes are excellent. Racing through favourites New York Girls, Roll Alabama, Betsy Baker and 10,000 Miles Away, this was a classy farewell, interspersed with fascinating ditties such as Black Beetle Pies - in which Boden sang through a megaphone.

It would be remiss not to make mention of the excellent first act, Keston Cobblers Club - possible stars of the future. Follow:

But the night belonged to Bellowhead, and this was a triumphant farewell for a band that has achieved so much in ten years. The final audience singalong - which I won't reveal for fear of upsetting Bellowheaders in Manchester, Oxford and beyond, brought a tear to the eye.

"Thank you Harrogate," said Boden who looked fresh as a daisy after performing for the best part of two hours - "and goodbye." You can't help but feel, with the twinkle in his eye, Harrogate hasn't seen the last of this legendary musician.