Fans of Merry Hell (not in short supply @ Wickham) are in for a treat this year as Virginia Kettle will be performing solo before the band take to the stage. Virginia’s vocals have been a key element of Merry Hell’s sound since the band’s inception a decade ago. Before joining her husband John, brothers-in-law Bob and Andrew, and sundry others in the eight-piece folk-rock outfit, she’d already established herself as a singer-songwriter in her own right. As “Virginia Barrett”, she released two solo albums: ‘The Quiet Bridge’ and ‘Sense of Human’ prior to joining the band.
Since Merry Hell began she released her first album, No Place Like Tomorrow. It’s a more intimate affair than a typical Merry Hell album, both in terms of personnel and in terms of subject matter. The songs have far less of an obvious political tone than many Merry Hell songs and here Kettle tends to touch on more personal matters: love, relationships, family life. ‘Union Jack House’ is the most political song on the album but is structured and delivered in a way that has surprising echoes of Victoria Wood (with a little bit of Are You Being Served thrown in!)