Larkin Poe, The Constitutional Club (Lewes, UK 8/16/12)
Something old – Wade In The Water (a gospel standard)
Something new – Mad As A Hatter
Something borrowed – Teardrop (from Massive Attack)
Something blue – siblings Rebecca and Megan Lovell are steeped in the bluegrass tradition.
Even though the Lovell sisters are only in their early 20’s they are experienced touring musicians having taken to the road whilst still in their teens. Larkin Poe sold out this venue having recently taken Cropredy by storm and if it was in any way a comedown to play in front of a hundred or so after Cropredy’s thousands, it didn’t show at all. The sisters backed by a stellar three-piece, are a tightly knit group whose playing goes from strength to strength.
I last saw Larkin Poe in March when they were showcasing at the SXSW festival where they had to contend with a noisy crowd who seemed more intent on drinking and chatting to each other than listening to the music. However, they really ramped up their playing and soon grabbed people’s attention!
Tonight though the audience had come to listen and listen they did whether they were sitting on the floor, sitting in chairs or standing. Rebecca (guitar/mandolin) took centre stage as she is the lead vocalist whilst Megan’s dexterity on the lap steel was sympathetic, unobtrusive and (excuse the pun) hit all the right notes. Tonight’s fourteen-song set-list was equally split between originals and covers. As Larkin Poe, the band has released five EP’s; their sibling harmonies and playing has always received well-deserved praise and their song writing is developing well. Their recent release, a 7 song EP of original material THICK AS THIEVES had sold out on the tour and if the choice of covers played tonight is anything to go by insofar as their influences are concerned, then they are making excellent choices and learning from the best.
Gillian Welch’s Rock of Ages, the Band’s Ophelia and Jimi Hendrix’s Bleeding Heart showed how at ease they are with different genres of music. Having started life as the bluegrass influenced trio, the Lovell Sisters, elder sister Jessica subsequently left the group. A while after Jessica’s departure the remaining pair teamed up with a backing band and expanded their sound to incorporate pop-folk-rock flavours in their material however they still remain true to their bluegrass sensibilities. If it sounds like a bit of a mish-mash it isn’t at all – it works well and is seamless. Just goes to show what good musicians they are!
A few problems with Rebecca’s microphone were corrected – as this was being attended to the band just launched into an impromptu instrumental much to everyone’s delight. The Hendrix track I mentioned earlier featured solos from everyone on stage – Rick Lollar on guitar, Robby Handley on bass and Chad Melton on drums.
‘We’re going to send you off with a nice pretty song’ they said as they returned for an encore – Nanci Griffith’s Gulf Coast Highway – as I said, they are making excellent choices!
Smiles all round both on and off stage were a testament to a great show – the UK leg of the tour continues including more festival dates where they will no doubt build upon developing their ever expanding fan base. Jela Webb
Rock of Ages – Gillian Welch
Teardrop – Massive Attack
Wade In The Water – Gospel standard
Am I That Easy To Forget – written by Carl Belew and W S Stevenson and recorded by, amongst others, Skeeter Davis, Jim Reeves.
Long Hard Fall
Mad As A Hatter
Ophelia – The Band
Bleeding Heart – Jimi Hendrix
Gulf Coast Highway – Nanci Griffith