Seth Lakeman - Jazz Cafe - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Seth Lakeman - Jazz Cafe

by Hiro Master Rating:8 Release Date:

I first saw Seth Lakeman play at the Shepherd's Bush Empire to a packed-out crowd of salivating women and young couples. I was struck then by the incongruity of such an audience for a folk artist, but then Seth Lakeman isn't your ordinary folk player. A similar audience is here tonight on a sweltering Tuesday at the Jazz Cafe in Camden. Notwithstanding the heat, and the delay on production of his new album, his fifth solo work to date entitled Hearts and Minds, the gig is an enjoyable romp of old songs and new. For some folk purists, Lakeman's laid-back, poppy attitude to folk can be problematic, and certainly in this performance, his often generic singing voice threatens to weaken the power of the lyrics. Though he has a good voice, Lakeman is first and foremost a musician, and it's his technical skill, as well as his unassuming and friendly banter with the crowds, that wins over tonight.

The smaller, more stylish surroundings of the Jazz Cafe may lack the epicness of his bigger gigs, but the intimacy of the surroundings seems to suit Lakeman's style, as he jokes with the audience about screwing up his album release. This space also brings out the tightness of his brilliantly talented band, a special mention must go to Ben Nicholls on the double bass and Sean Lakeman (Seth's brother) on the guitar. A couple of slower songs seem to lose the crowd's attention, and it becomes clear that Lakeman is best when the music's fast and furious. He is clearly a highly skilled and captivating musician, whose performance - jumping around the stage, having battles with his band, and alternating furiously between guitar, fiddle, and ukulele - is really entertaining. 'Riflemen of War' and 'Race To be King' are two of the most successful tracks of the night, and get the rather sedate audience stamping and dancing with more than moderate abandon. The gig feels a bit short, as it ends bang on 9.30, but the audience comes out grinning. This may not be folk of the heart-wrenching, whiskey-swilling, stinking pub variety, but it is accessible, upbeat and most of all, enjoyable.

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