Live review: Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys @ Music Room 08/03/18
Live review: Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys
Date: Thursday 9th March 2018
Venue: Music Room, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
Support: Louis and Isaac Grover
Reviewer: Denis Parkinson
Folk music passing from generation to generation is vital to the survival of the genre. Tradition plus innovation equals growth. It is a powerful thing. Excitingly, after witnessing Sam Kelly and the Lost Boys perform at Liverpool Philharmonic Music Room, it appears clear that folk music is in danger. In danger of being exciting and relevant, interesting to a new generation and within reach of a mainstream audience again.
The seven-piece band was superb. Multi instrumentalists with skill and presence that belies their youth. Their music is a mix of traditional songs and original material. There is a respect for the music but there is also a modern approach. Driving arrangements with both current and older influences apparent.
There is a buzz around this band. Mike Harding and BBC Radio’s Mark Ratcliffe are firm supporters. Live sessions on Radio 2 and a legendary performance at the Cambridge Folk Festival has increased the attention. A nomination for best group at the Radio 2 Folk Awards is also spreading the word. Current album Pretty Peggy has met with well-deserved acclaim and is well represented here tonight. Songs such as Greenland Whale and older song Little Sadie are not only striking songs but contain enough evocative imagery to convey stories with depth and emotion.
Harmonies are layered, instruments are complimentary and solos are well measured. A highlight was a superlative cover of Sultans of Swing with a hugely impressive banjo solo channelling Mark Knopfler. Trust me.
Sam Kelly also tells a good story. Anecdotes from his musical and family journey are delivered with warmth and humour. The band added to the stories and were clearly having fun. This was an entertaining evening both musically and conversationally. The audience were attentive and appreciative and there was a sense of witnessing true talent early on in its journey. Excellent songs delivered with atmosphere and skill. A great time had by all.
Of note were the two support acts. Honey and the Bear, a Suffolk roots duo, who play atmospheric songs with a dark edge that are melodic and serious and Louis and Isaac Grover, a local guitar duo given a slot by Sam Kelly after seeing them live in Chester. Both acts are ones to watch in the future.
Denis Parkinson is a singer songwriter based in Liverpool. He performed at Liverpool Acoustic Festival 2016 and Threshold Festival 2016. He performed at the Liverpool Acoustic Kazimier Garden afternoon as part of LIMF 2015 and played at the Lantern Theatre, Liverpool, for We Shall Overcome 2015. He was a finalist in the Liverpool Acoustic Songwriting Challenge 2014 and 2015. He plays regularly in and around Liverpool and has a longstanding enthusiasm for music of all kinds. In 2015 he released an album titled "Liverpool Skyline". In real life he works as a lecturer at University of Liverpool.