Review: Folk singer Anthony John Clarke at the Queen’s Head, in Belper

Anthony John Clarke
Anthony John Clarke

‘Who said folk music isn’t a contact sport?’ joked Anthony John Clarke at one point in response to a rather lack-lustre sing-a-long by the audience. A gig for shrinking violets it was not.

With the nights quickly growing darker and the last of the leaves falling from the trees, folk singer Anthony John Clarke took the stage at the Queen’s Head to kick-start what will hopefully be fantastic new season of live music in Belper.

Though bitterly cold outside, the audience within the candle-lit Top Bar did their best to warmly receive Belfast born Clarke and his entourage of friends and family. Admiring the venue, he likened it to the fashionable basement clubs of New York.

Those that managed to venture their way to the top of the hill were not disappointed. Throughout the two sets charismatic Anthony effortlessly managed to switch between anecdote and song, taking cues from his childhood in Ireland during the Troubles to his years of living and performing as a singer in Liverpool.

What was surprising was the ease with which he could switch between a melancholic number like ‘The Broken Years’ to something upbeat and humorous like ‘One Night Stand’, proving he was not just a versatile story teller, but also an accomplished guitarist. Yes, it certainly looks like those guitar lessons his children bought him for Christmas are paying off.

Anthony proved popular amongst the locals I spoke to afterwards and if the reception he got after his three encores was anything to go by then no doubt his services will be required in the not too distant future. Personally, I would have liked to have seen a solid support act, but there’s plenty more to see in the coming months and I strongly recommend checking out the Top Bar at the Queens Head Pub if you have not yet had the chance.

Next up is Roy Bailey at the Queens Head Top Bar on Saturday, November 3rd doors at 8 pm.

Review by Ed Sills.

Ed will be writing reviews of gigs in the area and letting you know what is coming up. To get in touch with him email him at