Thursday, 16 April 2015

Larkin Poe - Hare and Hounds, Kings Heath, Birmingham Wednesday 15th April 2015

Rebecca Lovell
Almost a year on from unveiling their new sound, it was time to once again catch up with a Larkin Poe live show to check out the continual evolution of the talented Lovell siblings’ career odyssey. The gradual transformation from harmonious roots traditionalists to full blown ‘swampadelic ‘ southern rock has reached a point of embedment with prime evidence of both Rebecca and Megan effortlessly growing into their new sonic identikit. Close up observation revealed a band optimising a voluminous sound within the confines of sisterly harmony; this time more prevalent in musical intuition and emotion rather than vocal entwinement.

Megan Lovell
The team from the Kitchen Garden Café was vindicated in re-booking the band for a second successive year and a healthy turnout in their borrowed home of the Hare and Hounds manifested into a convivial atmosphere of shared appreciation. An interesting observation when comparing Larkin Poe 2015 and the 2014 version was the slimmed down trio format with the inventive adaption of percussionist Marlon Patton adding the foot pedal bass to his repertoire. Such solid backfield support is critical for successful band delivery, with the girls acknowledging his presence alongside their usual sassy banter.

Rebecca Lovell
Song-wise the set was unsurprisingly heavily biased to their latest album KIN which continues to gather praise months after its release, with the latest accolade being delivered from readers of the respected roots website Spiral Earth. From a personal perspective, the live highs on the evening revolved around the core tracks of ‘Stubborn Love’, ‘Crown of Fire’, ’Jailbreak’ and the radio friendly ‘Don’t’. However it would be remiss not to honour the extended version of ‘Banks of Allatoona’ with Megan raising her lap steel guitar playing to impressive levels. Perhaps there is a touch of irony in the mere observation on the instrument allocation front, of the elder sister Megan holding a position of consistency alongside the constant switching of Rebecca between acoustic, electric and mandolin. However such musical fusion adds immense spark to a band devoted intensely to mastering audience connection.

It was intimated in an interview accompanying this tour that the current style of Larkin Poe is maybe earmarked for a potential lengthy run, although precedence adds an element of caution to such a thought. Anyway to back the initial inkling up, three songs added to the set since last year were in much the same vein with ‘Hey Sinner’, seamlessly sampled with the classic ‘Black Betty’, being the pick. Larkin Poe pre-Kin was thinly represented by ‘Mad as a Hatter’ accompanied with the usual tale of their genealogical challenges. The traditional ‘Wade in the Water’,another long term favourite of the band, also took its rightful place in the set list. In a diversion from last year’s show at the same venue, the encore wasn’t concluded with an exhibition of exquisite unaccompanied sibling vocal harmony, but their version of Cher’s ‘Bang Bang’ still shimmered with nostalgic brilliance.

Raevennan Husbandes
It was a delight to finally see the lucid singer-songwriter Raevennan Husbandes make her Birmingham debut after first crossing her path at the Cambridge Folk Festival last year. The distinctive and wholly individual Raevennan appeared this time in a trio format, supported by Simon Lewis on cello and the legendary B.J Cole on pedal steel. While she was showered with praise in these quarters for her recent collaborative work with Tracey Browne, this support slot focussed more on her solo EP work with songs such as ‘Box of Innocence’ and ‘The Dancer’ standing out. Not afraid to experiment and stretch her sound in complex angles, Raevennan is in control of her considerable talent and whichever direction it veers in bulges with appreciative appeal.

To pair the two contrasting styles of the support and main artists worked effectively in presenting an entertaining evening, where Larkin Poe were to successfully sign off this current UK leg of their almost ubiquitous touring schedule. While this latest incarnation of vaunted exported Georgia talent head to further their cause to a wider European market, a UK return is planned for the summer including Elvis Costello support slots and a re-invite to headline the Maverick Festival in July. Packing a great deal into their formative years is paying dividends to the prospering careers of Megan and Rebecca Lovell with the current evolving style of Larkin Poe settling neatly within the rich seam they have certainly hit.

All photos courtesy of Ian Dunn at Principle Photography

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