Concert Reviews

Rick Davis, Executive Director, Hylton Performing Arts Center

Alan Reid's performance at the Hylton Performing Arts Center was fresh, engaging, and full of passion for the stories of thepeople he sings about. And he is a master storyteller in song. That he also sings like a dream and plays several instruments with panache adds to the overall effect, which is sometimes witty, sometimes melancholy, often mesmerizing, and always impressive.


THE BEAT MAGAZINE, London, Ontario

Reid and van Sante are ex members of the hugely successful and long running (since 1969) Scottish folk group, The Battlefield Band. Alan researches historical and contemporary events that catch his interest with great depth and attention to detail. He then writes wonderful story songs with such diverse topics as endangered species of Sea Eaglesto the loneliness of the life of The Last Lighthouse Keeper and a whole album’s worth of songs about John Paul Jones.' Rob provides beautiful guitar backing (and forwarding!) on guitar which he jokingly referred to as his high strung wife. To continue this image, he stroked her with gentle passion eliciting sighing harmonies and driving rhythms as the mood warranted. He sings in an intrinsicallyBritish traditional style delivering songs with heartfelt sincerity. This came through strongly in one written by an ex-miner as a conversation between the miner and the Coal: “Men may win the battles but Coal always wins the war.” Besides original material and modern songs, they livened up well known traditional songs with a twist.



"The Pleasure Will Be Mine, one of Reid's loveliest compositions its winsome melody, vivid vernacular lyrics and tender sentiments, an ideal match with his warm, gentle voice, echoed in later highlights such as The Riccarton Tollman's Daughter, while his storytelling took on a darker hue in What Can A Lassie Dae?, and the slippery-slope momentum of The Arran Convict."
"Van Sante contributes fine contemporary ballad covers, playing guitar in a variety of open tunings".



It says much about the bond Alan Reid and Rob van Sante have forged that when they get time off from the prolific Battlefield Band, as founder member and soundengineer respectively, they simply change roles and keep working together. Many a band, given the chance, might want a holiday away from each other, although the Batties have long fostered something of a family atmosphere. There were times here when the level of performance was more akin to two pals having a song together, rather than creating the spark of two musicians really on their mettle. Reid, however, does tend to sing out more in this situation and led several rousing choruses, chiefly in the extracts from the duo’s Jacobite song collection, The Rise and Fall o’ Charlie. Away from the mixing desk, van Sante is a capable guitarist and vocal harmoniser, and his singing of The Rout of the Blues, an army mobilising song learned from the classic album of the same name by Robin & Barry Dransfield, was a welcome return for an often overlooked gem. Most of the repertoire, however, came from Reid, who plays guitar as well as the more familiar accordion and keyboard in the duo, and showed his ready eye for song ideas.  There was much evidence, of well-practiced ways with melodies, with The Last Lighthouse Keeper, fulfilling the ‘give ‘em something to hum on the way home’ dictum.







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