— Jonathan Markwell contributed with this report
Seth Lakeman has made that most succesful of combinations by taking an often maligned genre, in this case folk, and adding the accessibility of pop to bring it blinking into the light of the mainstream.
After receiving recognition with a Mercury nomination for the dark and brooding “Kitty Jay”, he built on this template of using folk standards and stories of medieval heroes, arguably paving the way for newer acts like Laura Marling and Mumford & Sons.
December 8th finds him on his second visit to the Drill Hall in Lincoln. Flanked on one side by his brother Sean on guitar and on the other by a man so large he makes his double bass look small, Lakeman fuses undeniable musical talent with handsome, outdoor-ish looks.
If the music becomes tiresome for him he could probably find work modelling hiking gear.
Luckily he doesn’t need a fallback career just yet — his performance tonight is flawless. The vocals are nigh on perfect and convey genuine passion, while he can play an instrument as soon as he looks at it, effortlessly skipping between fiddle, guitar and ukulele while his band handle the rest.
Opening with the determined battle-cry “Hearts and Minds”, the collective kick out a more powerful sound than anyone is expecting.
This is no watered-down acoustic act, and the simple, pounding drums lead for some focused and driven odes to folklore. The uptempo vibe continues with “The Hurlers”, proceeded by a brief history lesson surrounding the subject of the lyrics. It’s a nice touch that he adds frequently, granting the songs more depth than just hearing the albums could.
It’s a set list chosen to satisfy everyone, spanning his solo output so far and touching on almost every release.
Of particular note is title track from the aforementioned “Kitty Jay”; stood alone amidst skittering spotlights, armed with only a fiddle and sheer ability, he captivates everyone in the room, building to a pounding crescendo and resounding applause. It’s a special moment.
After a brief departure from the stage, the band returns for a deserved encore. Seth promises a “real hoedown” and delivers, with the bonkers “Race To Be King” getting everyone warmed up before heading back out into the frosty Lincoln air.
This triumphant show was made that little bit more special by the choice of two local acts as support after Delta Maid had to pull out due to the weather. Both citing Lakeman as an influence, Elliott Morris and The Treehouse turn in excellent performances as standard and tonight is no exception. The former in particular showing constant progress not only as a musician, but as a performer too, consistently charming and amusing between strong, acoustic-based songs.
It’s this combination of established masters and up-and-coming talent that has made it a great night for live music in Lincoln.Tweet