Forty years ago, Peter Bellamy, a very fine traditional folk singer who became famous with his group The Young Tradition, wrote a folk opera, The Transports, about transportation of criminals to Australia. It was recorded then, with a cast including The Watersons, Martin Carthy, June Tabor and Dave Swarbrick, but has faded from memory since. Now, a new production has been mounted which brings in contemporary references to migration and asylum. The company of eleven musicians and singers deliver an exciting and moving evening using narration, acting, ballads and music. It vividly evokes the injustice of 18th century England, where transportation was often the remedy for even minor offences, but reminds us that Thomas Muir of Scotland was also transported. It also brings us right up to date by looking at the plight of Syrian refugees and their perilous sea voyages across the Mediterranean.
The company is made up of many experienced singers and musicians, perhaps the best known being Nancy Kerr and members of Bellowhead and Faustus. They put on a vivid evening of music and ballads and with great harmonies in the chorus, and end with a powerful sea shanty. This is truly a night to remember. The audience in the Strathclyde Suite of Glasgow’s Royal Concert Hall love it to the point of a standing ovation. The show now tours to England.