The defining feature of this concert was the consummate delicate nature of the musicianship, with Hilary James predominantly playing the guitar, with occasional forays on her enormous bass mandolin and Simon Mayor demonstrating his virtuoso mandolin skills.
The second piece, one of Simon’s compositions, “The Buttermere Waltz” was so quiet, refined and delicate it positively gripped your attention. This was followed by an upbeat, up-tempo song from Hilary, “What a Little Moonlight Can Do” with Simon accompanying on his mandolin.
Hilary’s bluesy song, “Melancholy Blues” showed off her smooth and rounded vocals.
Hilary got out her positively huge, bass mandolin for “The Spider in the Shed”, a gruesome song, not for arachnophobes, which had been derived from a children’s song, not exactly exquisitely musical but entertaining nonetheless in a sort of Rolf Harris style.
Hilary sang sweetly in the style of the earlier era of Gracie Field’s and Mel Tormé with “My House is Haunted by the Sweet Echo of Your Last Goodbye”.
We had Simon on violin as well as his stunning virtuoso performances on mandolin, with comedy songs, some Django Reinhardt guitar, a bit of bluegrass, then country blues with Dinah Washington style “You Don’t Know What Love Is”, then more blues and wrapping up with a Rimsky-Korsakov song sung in French, even Handel’s “Arrival of the Queen of Sheba”. All this interspersed with Simon’s dry, humorous anecdotes.
The encore was “The Parrot Song” which had everyone leaving the hall laughing excitedly after a very varied and entertaining evening.