HATS off to folk veteran folk singer Martin Carthy for going it alone when his scheduled tour partner, accordion player John Kirkpatrick, fell sick days before the start of their trip.

He’d not only lost his support on stage but also his transport for the tour and had to travel by train – not easy with at least two guitars and personal luggage.

When efforts to find a replacement failed, Carthy decided to go solo, something he rarely does. But he didn’t disappoint.

He has an unassuming yet engaging style, steeped in traditional folk. His guitar accompaniment is deceptively simple, lightly picking out the melody in the foreground with a some rich and unusual chords in the background.

All his songs tell a story and his diction, plus the excellent acoustic of Wiltshire Music Centre, delivered every syllable clearly. Carthy tells a good story too and wherever possible credits the songwriter or the song collector.

There were the familiar folk favourites about wronged women, romantic highwaymen, and convicts transported to Botany Bay, an unusual version of Scarborough Fair from Goathland, in the Scarborough district of Yorkshire, and some purely instrumental numbers which also had their own stories.

One assumes Carthy had to adjust and expand his planned programme when suddenly finding himself performing solo, and therefore it was entirely understandable that he lost his way once or twice. But he disarmingly admitted he’d forgotten the words and restarted. No-one minded.

It was a debut night for the Centre’s new LED lighting system, which has cost more than £40,000 but which will reduce lighting costs by more than £6,000 a year. It is infinitely flexible as was demonstrated during the performance. Funding it is part of the Centre’s 20th anniversary appeal.

Jo Bayne