The Smoke Fairies / Samana – Castle & Falcon, Birmingham, Wednesday 9th February 2022


Jessica Davies and Katherine Blamire, otherwise known as The Smoke Fairies, finally get their delayed seven day trek around the UK underway and arrive in Brum ten months after originally pencilled in. This folk / blues duo last played the more intimate Sunflower Lounge in the City centre just under two years ago, in support of their last album `Darkness Brings The Wonders Home` was released.

The support tonight are Samana, who are a core of Rebecca Rose Harris and Franklin Mockett but tonight they have a third wheel whom i`m unable to find out anything about. Samara are a kind of blend of poetry and music, a sort of ethereal aural soundscape. They have a new album ‘All One Breath’ due next month and they share a few cuts from said album in this short but intense set. They arrive on stage to the theme tune from the Twin Peaks television series, which is probably an indicator as to what`s in store. Their debut show in Birmingham allowed us to acquire a flavour of the new album with tracks such as `Glory Of Love` and `Live For The Road` and they also shared an instrumental version of Chris Isaak`s `Wicked Game` towards the end of this enjoyable outing.

If you like bands like Sigur Rós and Cocteau Twins, check out Samana.

Jeff Buckley`s `Last Goodbye` rings out as The Smoke Fairies take to the stage. I have to say the next hour really blew me away as I wasn`t expecting such a powerful guitar driven bluesy offering from this duo. We have a few cuts from the last release with the quite hypnotic `Don`t You Want To Spiral Out Of Control?`, the heavy sounding `Coffee Shop Blues` with its delightful harmonies, the edgy `Left To Roll` and complex and mesmerising `Disconnect`.

We also had a variety of numbers from all their albums with the forceful `Sunshine`, enthrallingly introspective `Version Of The Future` and quite dreamy `Take Me Down When You Go`.

The highlight for me though was the quite dark `Shadow Inversions` with its intricate guitar work and bluesy `The Three Of Us` but before we knew it the show was over such was the intensity of this evening. The duo introduced the guys who provided the pivotal rhythm section with drummer Sean Fallowfield and local lad, well Walsall`s John J Presley on bass. I`d encourage you to check out John`s own superb Mississippi Delta Blues albums, he`s a superb guitarist as well as bass player.

Jessica and Katherine return for a two song encore which included the blistering `Out Of The Woods` and the complex `River Song` which they shared that they`d fallen out over during the sound check. Sadly, that was it as they left the stage to a full-bodied appreciation from this robust audience, which was a little depleted due to the ongoing concerns with the vestiges of the pandemic.

Two down and five to go so if you want to catch this duo, and I`d urge you to do so, you`ll need to get your ass in gear as they say, as the shows will conclude by the middle of next week. 

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