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McDermott’s 2 Hours

Live at Ferneham Hall

…The success of the album is, in no small part, due to the effect of the driving fiddle of Ben Paley.


With Nick Burbridge’s songs, really poetry set to music, Ben Paley’s driving fiddle, Matt Goorney’s multi-instrumental talent and Dil Davies’s ballsy drumbeats, this album is a gem.The theme of the gig was ‘The Night Shelter’, a place where those at the very bottom of society’s heap congregate, and there are references to this on the recording, inviting us to feel compassion and even kinship to those less fortunate than ourselves.

The album kicks off with the band’s signature tune ‘Fox on the Run’, a song celebrating anarchist alienation, and moves on to ‘Song of a Brother’ a sad and angry account of Nick Burbridge’s brother’s death due to the Government’s so-called ‘Care in the Community’ program. ‘Harry Brewer’ compares those who fought in the First World War with those who fought in the Easter Rising of 1919, and ‘Johnny and the Jubilee’ explores the devastating effect of war on the soldiers themselves.

Highlights of the album, for me, were ‘Darkness and Sail’ a very dancey yet erudite song about Virginia Woolf and ‘Rosa’ a moving theatre-song about Rosa Luxembourg. As a bonus, listen out for Nick’s hilarious skit of ‘English Country Garden’, an attack on the English establishment – now why would certain folk reviewers be offended? And of course there is the ubiquitous ‘Dirty Davey’ as famously covered by the Levellers – hear the original here! The album is available from the band’s website.