Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman – Old Cinema Launderette (Durham, UK – February 16, 2014)
Another sold-out show at Launderette Sessions in Durham. Once more, in my year of new music, I came along after hearing a single song of Kathryn and Sean’s…but this has become the norm so many times this year.
Opening the show has fiddle player Henry Webster who performed a fantastic variety of tunes on his fiddle and hardanger. There was an excellent range of upbeat foot-tapping tunes and more mournful slower songs. Henry seems to be involved in a lot of different projects and I will definitely be looking into their releases and hopefully get to see more of his playing in many different contexts.
Kathryn and Sean came out with Kathryn on vocals, piano and different woodwinds, and Sean playing guitar. WIth the launderette being a sell-out I was so close to where they were performing I could envision being hit in the head by Sean’s guitar. Thankfully, that didn’t happen.
I was unsure what to expect from their performance but they were excellent. A great mixture of upbeat and sadder songs. Their instrumental work was great too with more variety and invention from two people than you’d probably expect. I especially loved Kathryn’s beautiful voice. It was wonderfully emotive and clear whether she sang through her microphone or without. She performed an unaccompanied tune based on Scandinavian folklore about two sisters who lure men to their doom, that was one of the best vocal performances I think I’ve ever heard.
Sean’s guitar playing was precise and clear throughout, and was totally suited to each song. There was not a note of chord out of place or that was not needed.
The other song that I particularly remember was ‘The Ballad of Andy Jacobs’, about Kathryn’s memories of the miners’ strike from her childhood in Barnsley. There is an absolutely awesome video on YouTube.
Their between song tales of playing murder ballads at their 6-year-old daughters’ school, touring, and the stories behind the stories of the songs themselves was wonderfully engaging. I imagine it was exactly the feeling of intimacy I’d get if they were playing in my living room. And what could be better than that?