Live at Leeds Metropolitan University on Saturday, 6th October 2007
The old days when folk was seen as only for the "crusties" are gone. Thanks to troubadours like Willy Mason, Frank Turner and Get Cape,Wear Cape, Fly, folk is now in the lug holes of many young as well as old people. And then the poster boy of folk turns up...
Seth Lakeman is now more popular than in his Equation days, coming out on his own rather than being one third of the Lakeman Brothers or one fifth of Equation (with Kate Rusby and his brothers). Yes, brother Sean is helping on guitar, along with Ben Nicholls on double bass, the ever smiling Cormac Bryne on the strange box drum (a bodhran), and Andy Tween on the drums. This is the first tour I have seen with a drummer on the sort of drum kit many of us can recognise, and the first time the stage has been engineered to wow the crowds.
Instead of a bare stage, with just the musicians to focus on, this show is going all out, with flashing lights in the background when Seth is playing solo, and leaving him with a silhouette; the figure with the fiddle. It's all a bit showy, and is taking the focus away from the music, which is what first got me into Seth. Sure he has the looks and definitely the musical skills to pull off a show, so why make it all fancy?
The set is a mixture of songs from (mainly) 'Freedom Fields', and upcoming album 'Poor Man's Heaven'. 'Race To Be King' has already been successfully tested at the many festivals that Seth and co. attend each year, and is sure to be a single, after the poppy title track. 'Kitty Jay' gets the biggest cheer, with the fiddle skills on show more than any other track. Personal favourites for me are 'How Much', a great drinking song, and 'Scrumpy's Set', similar to the soundtrack of a how down which increases pace up to a breathless finish. The new songs fit seamlessly into the setlist with the older tracks, and it looks like the rein of Seth is far from over. I saw this show in Sheffield last week, and you could tell the band are having a laugh here; the crowd are up for it(some plastic point pots are being thrown about) and there is plenty of dancing. It's just a shame Seth started early; I missed the first five songs, although I arrived before 9pm, and the gig was over at 10pm.