Sea shanties have made a comeback in recent years and it’s because of some little-known fishermen from Port Isaac who are now more famous than they could ever have imagined.
While I understood these songs were sung by sailors and men of the sea, I didn’t fully appreciate their importance. That was until I saw Fisherman’s Friends The Musical at the Mayflower Theatre in Southampton.
I learnt the word ‘shanty’ comes from ‘chanter’, the French verb ‘to sing’. It is an art form to be savoured, especially when sung as a cappella, which takes some doing – but the cast of this musical carry it off to a tee.
Being a fisherman is hard graft, up at 4am according to Jago (Cornishman Robert Duncan – Drop The Dead Donkey) so it’s no surprise that aged 72 he chooses to retire. Despite his grey hair and beard I can’t help seeing Gus Hedges in suit and tie.
Folk singing helps these men get through the tough times while celebrating the good with classics like The Drunken Sailor, Keep Hauling and No Hopers, Jokers And Rogues. This is a fabulous feel-good production that I am really pleased I watched.