Reviewer: Jonny Black
Seth Lakeman is a contemporary folk artist who over the last ten years has brought traditional folk music to the mainstream. He is one of a few artists who has managed to do this, as the image of folk music is often seen as backward and dated. His 2004 album ‘Kitty Jay’ was nominated for the Mercury Music Prize and brought him to the attention of a wider and more alternative audience. He has just released his seventh studio album ‘Word of Mouth’ and with it comes a UK tour which tonight comes to the Lowry Theatre in Salford.
An excitable Sunday night audience made up of mainly 30 and 40 something’s fills the main Lyric Theatre primed for an evening of foot stomping folk music. First to take to the stage is Kim Churchill, a very talented Australian singer-songwriter who provides strong support for Lakeman. He confidently warms up the crowd with a well-honed set of raw folk tunes with an original blues twist. Lakeman takes to the stage with fellow musicians Jack Rutter (guitar), Cormack Byrne (percussion), Ben Nichols (Bass) and Lisbee Stainton (Vocals, Banjo and Harmonium). Lakeman plays for 90 minutes and treats us to classic songs like ‘Colliers’, ‘Race to be King’ and the rousing ‘Kittie Jay’ as well as songs from the new album, including ‘Last Rider’, ‘The Saddest Crowd’ and the haunting ‘Portrait of my Wife’: described tonight as a ‘drinking song’ rather than a traditional lament!
Lakeman was raised in Dartmouth, Devon and it is this remote and mysterious part of the West Country which inspires the lyrics to most of his songs. His cleverly crafted songs tell of bleak landscapes, lost loves and heroic war stories. He is a gutsy performer who pours his emotions out to the audience through his songs. His superb violin playing is epic in parts and the guitar playing extremely skill full. He effortlessly switches between instruments without losing the audience for one second.
Lakeman is well worth catching on tour if you get the chance. It’s a great night of music for both the folk purist and lovers of good music in general. By the end of the night the audience are up on their feet dancing and we all leave into the rainy Salford night happy and musically fulfilled from a very entertaining evening.
Reviewed on 19th October 2014