Gig review: Seth Lakman @ Novas CUC Wednesday 7th April 2010
When I was asked if I’d like to review Seth Lakeman’s gig at Liverpool’s Novas Contemporary Urban Centre I jumped at the chance. I’d heard of the Mercury Prize nominated folk singer before, but never heard his music, so I checked out his albums before the show, and I’d like to be able to say I was impressed. Even more so I’d like to be able to say my opinion was changed by his performance. But I can’t. When listening to his albums it struck me that something was missing. I couldn’t put my finger on it. But having stood just five feet from him during his set I realised what it was that was missing. While he played a confident set with varied material I felt throughout the set that there was a spark missing that let the songs down.
The evening began with support acts that were comfortably similar to the headliners style with The Kevin Critchley Outfit playing in a similar vein to Lakeman’s own brand of slightly rocky English folk. They opened with an energetic set, with songs from their debut album Scars. With a depleted band, just guitar, violin & cello instead of their normal 5 piece the KCO performed a confident set, engaging and joking with the crowd between songs. They were followed by Dan Donnelly who played a solo set accompanied only by his loop pedal, which he used to create his own backing using the body of his guitar for percussion and layering several guitar parts up to create songs like ‘Cigarette’ and ‘Diamonds in the Road’.
Lakeman’s set began with a track, ‘The Hurlers’, from his current album Poor Man’s Heaven. He then announced that he was releasing his next album Hearts and Minds on June 14th before playing the title track. He played several more new tracks during the rest of the evening. Throughout his set Lakeman switched between violin and guitar and while I felt he lacked a certain spark of conviction in his voice his fiddle playing made up for this. He was ably supported by his band and while his particular brand of contemporary English folk may not be my cup of tea, I can easily appreciate its appeal to so many of his fans. His songs are well crafted and he and his band played a dynamic set, changing the tempo of the evening several times, slowing the mood right down only to bring things to a peak announcing ‘I hope you don’t mind another hoedown’ and ending the set with ‘Poor Man’s Heaven’ before returning for an encore with an up tempo ‘Race To Be King’.
While Seth Lakeman might not be to my taste he was certainly interesting to watch live and he kept his audience captivated throughout.