Ralph McTell is one of the UK's most prominent folk performers, with an illustrious career stretching back to the '60s. He more than lived up to expectations by creating a warm, moving and highly skilled performance in one of Oxford's most iconic buildings.
The introductions were funny and slick, offering a fascinating glimpse into the world of '60s and '70s folk music, the song writing process and Ralph's own life. His stage presence was fantastic, warm and confident. I really enjoyed his line in self deprecating humour - the anecdote he told to introduce 'Streets of London' was particularly hilarious and modest.
It's rare to see a performer who is so obviously affectionate to his audience. You got a real sense that McTell performs out of love for the music, for performing, and for the people who come out to see him. The hosting was so charming and convivial, McTell even managed to start a stirring round of applause for Sir Christopher Wren (who did, to be fair, did do a cracking job on the Sheldonian).
This good feeling was more than reciprocated by the audience. There was a great atmosphere, and it was clear that almost everyone who was there was a committed fan. It was lovely to see people quietly whisper-singing along to themselves, really thoroughly enjoying the music. Delightfully, photography was banned for the gig, so for the first time since about 2001, I was able to see the artist unmediated by the screen of someone else's iPhone.
McTell's guitar playing was incredibly skilled, and he explained some of the styles and influences as he went along. His voice's timbre is really beautifully rich and smooth. Musically, this was an absolute delight.
It's difficult to be critical of the music you grew up with, because it doesn't really sound like music anymore. It sounds like your mum dancing in the kitchen on Saturday morning, and long car rides to see Granny and being allowed to stay up until ten and having chips for dinner. All I can say is, I loved it, like I always have.