Black Rose Ball 2017 – The Concert

This weekend saw the return of the Black Rose Ball to York. The two night extravaganza started with a concert on Friday at The Hospitium in the Museum Gardens before attendees donned their masks for a masquerade ball on Saturday at De Grey Rooms. We headed down to Friday’s concert to check out Seventh Harmonic, Irfan and Kirk Brandon in action.

Review and photos by Graeme Smith

The Black Rose Ball is an annual fundraiser for the Sophie Lancaster Foundation. Sophie made the headlines in 2007 when she lost her life to a hate crime, killed for simply looking different from her attacker. The event ensures Sophie stays in all our memories and raises funds to support community cohesion.

Each year, the ball takes on a different theme and this year’s theme was 1001 nights. Suitably, the line-up for this years concert featured a heavy touch of middle-eastern inspired music, starting with the ethereal Seventh Harmonic. The trio set the atmosphere for the night on strings and percussion.

Next up were Irfan who built on the feeling in the room. The appreciative audience, already swaying to the trance-inducing rhythms of Seventh Harmonic, feel even deeper into the evening’s dream, assisted by Irfan’s pleasing male and female vocal harmonics and array of backing instruments from around the world. Plinking strings played subtly over woodwinds and an assortment of percussion as the five-piece intertwined music, poetry and art (and whale song).

Hailing from Bulgaria, they drew inspiration from traditional Bulgarian folk music and tales of Babylonian stargazers. It was their first appearance in York and, judging by the audience’s reaction as they closed their set, it won’t be their last.

As the night drew on a curious mix of people filled the Museum Garden’s Hospitium. Black Rose Ball regulars shared drinks with ardent fans of Kirk Brandon, the face and voice of post-punk bands Theatre of Hate and Spear of Destiny. Kirk’s latest vehicle is an duo called Acoustik, which saw him work through his back catalogue on acoustic guitar backed by cello, breathing new life into his much-loved hits.

Though it was an acoustic performance, Kirk had lost none of the lively rock elements of his set. His voice remained powerful, as did his chords, particularly during a rendition of Spear of Destiny track The Wheel. He lead the room in rousing singalongs, including political commentary in Do You Believe in the Westworld?

With such beautiful music in such beautiful surroundings, night one of this year’s Black Rose Ball set the scene perfectly for Saturday’s main ball.

Seventh Harmonic, Irfan and Kirk Brandon played at The Black Rose Ball at The Hospitium in York Museum Gardens on Friday 1 September 2017.