HOW often does a rock band feature both a thumping rhythm section and a string quartet?
For that matter, how often does a rock band have four accordions — playing a folk cover of Kate Bush’s Hounds of Love, no less?
Most bands wouldn’t dare try to waltz Whitney Houston’s disco classic I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me).
And most aren’t fronted by a charismatic, multi-instrumental singer who also acts as a classical conductor — but the Remnant Kings are not like most bands.
The orchestral 11-piece is former Bellowhead mastermind Jon Boden’s current pet project (though it has been working for a while).
And for someone so synonymous with folk, Boden can certainly belt out a banger.
Currently touring new concept album Afterglow, his outfit will have delighted folk fans and rockers equally with a set which offered so much.
Opening with a few mellow folk favourites, the band revved up to a complete play-through of the aforementioned record, set in a near-future, post-oil Sheffield.
With the power out and society fractured, the people create Boden’s personal utopia — huddled by braziers, morris dancing and singing in the round.
It’s a romance filled with fun and optimism, squashed by tribal ties which ultimately keep lovers apart.
But reaching this sad end is a rollicking roller-coaster ride, with soaring folk rock punctuated by quiet, reflective ballads.
Boden the virtuoso switches seamlessly between guitar, fiddle, tambourine and accordion as appropriate.
His band is equally versatile, with woodwind regularly swapped for strings, keys for squeezebox and so on.
One highlight came when, during a string-heavy number, an extra violin was heard from where the drummer was sitting.
Swinging heads to the right, fans realised with a gasp and a cheer that our pan-pelter had whipped out a fiddle and was bowing it brilliantly.
And the talented fellow even reached for an accordion, when the time came for a four-way squeeze.
It’s rare that a band crosses the border between able players and music maestros, but The Remnant Kings vaulted it easily.
And even when cocking it up — as when Boden forgot the words to an encore number — they were endlessly entertaining.
Boden and his friends are the rock stars of folk and The Leadmill put them right up close, in the faces of their fans.
It was the best of an arena concert melded with an old-fashioned pub folk session. And it left a very pleasant afterglow indeed.
See www.jonboden.com for tour dates and www.leadmill.co.uk for upcoming acts at the Sheffield venue.
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