*All pun intended!
Musicals about musicians and music groups are notoriously difficult to produce. There is a delicate balance to be had between singing and storytelling.
Too much in one direction, and it risks becoming a tribute act. Too much in the other direction, and you have nothing more than a documentary and an auditorium full of people with unmet yearnings.
Fisherman’s Friends seems to have gotten the balance right – with a performance that combined traditional songs of the sea with more contemporary folk music and a large dash of humour.
The Fisherman’s Friends are a group of traditional folk singers from Port Isaac, a small fishing village on the north coast of Cornwall, England, who landed a record deal by singing sea shanties and later went on to perform on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury.
The show charts their discovery by Danny – a brash ’fish out of own water’ city type. And we follow the buoy band,’ as they navigate their way from humble beginnings to the unexpected success of their debut album “No Hopers, Jokers, and Rogues”.
The show starts with a high-energy rendition of Nelson’s Blood that hooks you even before the curtains go up. And as the show progresses, you are slowly reeled in, into the world of the Cornish fishermen on Port Isaac. Their love of singing and their camaraderie.
In case you don’t know the story, as was I, the group was formed in the early 1990s by a group of friends who worked in various professions but shared a love for the songs and traditions of their local area. They would often get together to sing sea shanties and other traditional Cornish folk songs.
They began performing publicly in local pubs and events, and their popularity quickly grew. They were soon asked to perform at festivals and other events around Cornwall and beyond. In 2010, they released their first album, “Fisherman’s Friends”, which included a selection of their most popular songs.
The group’s music is rooted in the maritime traditions of Cornwall and often features a cappella harmonies, with songs sung in both English and Cornish. They have become known for their rousing live performances and the ability to get audiences singing and clapping along.
The Fisherman’s Friends have gained international recognition, performing at festivals and events globally. They have also appeared on television and in films, including a 2019 biographical comedy-drama called “Fisherman’s Friends”, which tells the story of their rise to fame.
Despite their success, the Fisherman’s Friends remain committed to their roots and the traditions of their local area. They continue to tour and perform their unique brand of traditional folk music and have become a recognisable part of Cornish cultural heritage.