Rhys Griffiths

Singing Bones

North Wall Arts Centre, 6 Oct 2009

By and large, and in the strictest sense, people don’t tell stories these days. They may write them, or act them out, or sing them, or preach them but stories are rarely just plain told. It’s almost unsettling then, at first, to have just one man stand on a stage and tell you a story. It’s not immediately the most engaging of storytelling methods, even with some brilliantly atmospheric backing music. However, if you can work through your natural discomfort for such things, you become drawn into a world where the characters and action become every bit as real as if they were all up on that stage with the teller of tales.
The Singing Bones, performed by the Devil’s Violin, is two things: a performance by a wonderful folk band and an involving story told to music. The music has shades of the Gallic, the Gaelic and even Scandinavian, all written by the band, with a fiddle, a cello and an accordion. The story is about, well, stories, and centres on one orphan who is told dark tales to teach him about death, secrets and love. Stories, though, need to be told, so when he refuses to pass them on, and instead just repeats them into a bag, the stories become rather angry.
What starts off slowly, like the Brothers Grimm meets the soundtrack to a Stella Artois advert, becomes far more involving. The music and the story itself become more intense, taking the audience through all the emotions. The story about love is particularly well told and the high point of The Singing Bones, where the words and the music compliment each other perfectly, so that you forget that the narrator is not, in fact, a married couple but one man, in a flowery shirt. The Devil’s Violin are touring with The Singing Bones for the rest of the year and it is highly recommended that you catch it while you can.
Rhys Griffiths, 07/10/09