By Nigel Perry, Vice-Chairman, feva festival
Review: feva festival, Hope and Social + Northern Songbirds, Holy Trinity Church, Knaresborough
Hope and Social brought a touch of their inclusive approach to popular music to a packed Holy Trinity Church in Knaresborough on Sunday night as one of the high-spots of this year’s feva.
The concert won a rave response for the band, named by the Independent newspaper as one of Britain’s top five live music acts.
Leeds-based Hope and Social were supported by Harrogate choir Northern Songbirds in an unusual but wholly workable double act.
As they showed in Grassington in June, Hope and Social have an anthemic, big sound songbook that is ideal for choral backing and have the novel approach of inviting local groups to perform with them.
Their current tour is headed ‘the Band that Anyone Can Join’.
The result in Knaresborough was a great success and inspired Hope and Social to welcome the choir back on stage in an unscheduled and unrehearsed encore that brought the house down.
One of the organisers of feva, Matt Davidson, brought the Northern Songbirds to Hope and Social’s attention. “We were fortunate that they were keen to play in Knaresborough,” he said, “But they wanted to do something out of the ordinary.
“Hope and Social have this really innovative approach to performing. They like to work with other groups and go out of their way to involve their audiences.
“So I suggested they play in the church, which has great acoustics, and to get Northern Songbirds, one of the District’s top choral groups, along as a backing choir.
“The Songbirds picked up on the great charm and fun inspired by Hope and Social and they really clicked with the musicology of this highly versatile band. Everything they accompanied was a Hope and Social-original; there were no covers, so this was a real challenge.
“When they were called back for more and the band asked them to perform some numbers with which they were unfamiliar it was a tall order. But they responded with gusto and with the audience joining in too, it made for a rousing finale.”
Hope and Social have a highly entertaining act and their great rapport with the audience in Knaresborough stretched to them pinching sweets from those in the front row.
They were formed in 2008 and have a strong following across the country, being particularly strong in Yorkshire.
Their next stop is to perform a series gigs at the Edinburgh Fringe from 19 to 23 August.