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David Francey – always a pleasure

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Musician delights again in St. John's

The sold out second show, scheduled the night before an original April 13 performance, was filled with happy, smiling faces from all walks of life. We all had at least one thing in common: a deep appreciation of Scottish Canadian David Francey’s robust catalog of works.

At 25-years-old, I boast 18 years experience listening to Francey’s folk tunes, going back to his 1999 debut album ‘Torn Screen Door.’ 17 years later, I’m spinning his 2016 release ‘Empty Trains’ at Fred’s Records whenever I can.

Heading to the LSPU Hall on April 12, I knew I was in for a good show – Francey always provides a great night of tunes and storytelling, for a small crowd at The Ship or a field full of folk fanatics at the Newfoundland and Labrador Folk Festival in Bannerman Park.

Accompanied by his “right hand man on his left hand side,” guitarist Mark Westberg, and mandolin/bouzouki player Darren McMullen, Francey played two sets over the course of approximately 3 hours.

The show kicked off with ‘The Money Boys,’ a one minute long a cappella tune. There was a raspiness in Francey’s voice, stemming from some vocal complications in Australia, as he would later explain.

The added huskiness worked well on the next tune, and the rest. ‘Paper Boy’ was released 18 years ago now, but by the vibrations travelling through my feet as the audience tapped their toes in time with the music, it’s obvious that this tune, like all of Francey’s early works, have certainly held up over time.

The show was peppered with older tracks, including ‘Saints and Sinners,’ ‘Borderline,’ ‘Hard Steel Mill,’ ‘Broken Glass,’ and ‘Lucky Man.’

Newer releases were sprinkled in, such as ‘Pandora’s Box,’ ‘Holy Ground,’ ‘Mirror Ball,’ all accompanied by humourous anecdotes explaining the song’s origins. I was exceptionally excited to hear ‘Empty Train,’ the title track from his most recent album. This tune showcases the immense talent of multi-instrumentalists Westberg and McMullen, with banjo skills from Chris Coole.

A brand new track made its debut live appearance as well. After introducing the tune, titled ‘The Fleur of Colonsay,’ Francey joked that St. John’s would be the “least likely place to stone me to death.” The laughter was almost as thunderous as the applause.

The audience also showed immense appreciation after the band treated the crowd to a rare performance of ‘Come Rain or Come Shine.’ Francey explained that he had received a Facebook message from locals who had requested the tune, noting that it was their wedding song. The song was dedicated to them, and performed beautifully by Francey and co.

With a dozen pages scribbled in my notepad, I could have easily written a short novel on Francey’s wonderful performance – which proved to be exactly what I was expecting.

Leaving the LSPU Hall at 11:20 p.m., I was surprised by the clock. Time really does fly when you’re having fun.

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