Band on the Wall, Manchester
The track listing for the Lankum albums and that of their previous incarnation as Lynched, might appear overfamiliar to the eye of the regular folk fan. By and large, the themes and tales are trad standards. For crying out loud, they open with that favourite of weddings and karaokes, The Wild Rover. Except that your expectations are not even given lip service from the opening notes, clanging and clashing cyclically. This is not so far from New York minimalism or trance dance, but the roots are unwaveringly folk, as are the instruments – concertina, uillean pipes, fiddle, shruti box. Then there are the voices. The Brothers Lynch undoubtedly have that magic that comes from family members singing together, vocals almost visibly honed in countless Dublin pubs. At times, Cormac Dermody breaks his silence so that all four are making rare harmonies twisting round themselves. But what gets the audience rapt, transcendent, are the songs where Radie Peat breaks out, stark, uncompromising, beautiful. I am told that hers is a classic travelling community style of singing, and it is little surprise that Lisa o’Neill is an associate. It’s harsh, weathered; it wouldn’t suit everyone, but the Sunday night crowd were spellbound.
The sound is simply excellent. For each voice’s distinctive qualities to shine through was one thing, another was to give witness to the depth of tone of the droning instruments, while never straying near a dirge.
The new album gets a thorough airing; there are few hostages given to easy listening, but the crowd is duly delighted by the heavy build of Henry My Son from the first album. Mostly, these are songs given the Lankum interpretative makeover, but they also let rip with some dance tunes. When it’s finally time to turn in ‘absolutely the last song’, Radie commands attention with The Old Man from Over the Sea, with that voice that sears and stays with you into the outside chill. A truly outstanding night.
And the bar served Weetwood’s Cheshire Cat, which was nice!
Refreshingly young and enthusiastic for a folk audience, doubtless aided by BOTW’s mailing list and Northern Quarter hinterland, and plentiful. Selling out on a November Sunday night is to be congratulated.
It made me think..
about nothing but the gig. So often nowadays, I find my mind wandering. Tonight, I was engrossed.