Gig Review by Andrew Lindsay with Photography by John Bentley

It has been a little over a year since Seth Lakeman last appeared at the Picturedrome. Judging by the familial welcome the packed house gives him, most were here last time around with a few more (like me) who were introduced to his viola and fiddle talents when supporting Robert Plant’s band on the recent Carry Fire tour of Europe and North America.

Seth Lakeman at Holmfirth Picturedrome 17 November 2018

Promoting his tenth solo album The Well Worn Path, Lakeman’s current set-up comprises two new members: Kit Hawes (guitars/banjo) and Evan Jenkins (drums) in addition to long term collaborator Ben Nicholls (upright and electric bass).

A Devonian, Lakeman’s ‘folk rock’ repertoire is rooted in the West Country. His narratives concern themselves with war, tragedy and laments. There are few personal songs.

Seth Lakeman at Holmfirth Picturedrome 17 November 2018

The show opens with Lakeman on acoustic guitar and the rhythm section driving the beat while Hawes contributing some pretty electric guitar lines.

‘Stand By Your Guns’ is the first of two traditional broadsides. They are drawn from Lakeman’s collaboration with The Full English, a pioneering project to collate early 20th century British folksongs. It is a storming romp.

Seth Lakeman at Holmfirth Picturedrome 17 November 2018

The band leaves the stage for the ‘Silver Threads’, a self-penned ballad about growing old. It works well and provides a moment of respite and poignancy. Then it is back to the wilds of Dartmoor for ‘The Bold Knight’ as the main man is joined by the drummer. It is instantly recognised by the audience and much foot-stomping ensues.

The rest of the band rejoins for two selections from the new album. ‘Fitzsimmon’s Fight’ recounts the tale of a Cornish boxer who went onto become the champion of the world in 1903. It is another lyrically heavy historical narrative with most of the lyrics getting lost in the mix but it finally explodes into a swirling musical vortex rife with dramatic tension.

Seth Lakeman at Holmfirth Picturedrome 17 November 2018

‘The Educated Man’ is dedicated to all the teachers in the audience, of whom there seem to be an inordinate number. ‘Solomon Browne’ is another narrative song named for the Cornish lifeboat which was smashed to smithereens while on a rescue mission in 1981 losing all eight crew.

‘She Never Blamed Him’, one of the strongest tracks on the new album, has the flavour of Robert Plant’s collaborations with Alison Krauss and Patty Griffin. Lakeman’s album version is much enhanced by Seth’s sister-in-law and ex-Equation band-mate, Kathryn Roberts, and her contribution is missed tonight. Perhaps Seth can persuade her to join him on his March 2019 tour.

Seth Lakeman at Holmfirth Picturedrome 17 November 2018

‘Portrait of My Wife’, the second offering from The Full English is an excellent ballad reminiscent of an inverted ‘Woods of Darney’ (Richard Thompson). The tender fiddle playing perfectly complimenting the emotion of the vocals as the audience join in with some gusto on the ‘raise your glass to the one you love’ refrain.

The show builds to a rocking climax with ‘Kitty Jay’. An encore and the ninety minute set is soon over as is the current tour but a new one has already been announced in seated venues for March 2019. Go book it.

Seth Lakeman at Holmfirth Picturedrome 17 November 2018

Setlist: The Hurlers; Take No Rogues; Stand By Your Guns; Silver Threads; The Bold Knight; Fitzsimmon’s Fight; The Educated Man; Solomon Browne; Poor Man’s Heaven; She Never Blamed Him; The Colliers; Portrait of My Wife; Kitty Jay; Encore: Drink ‘Til I’m Dry.

Seth Lakeman at Holmfirth Picturedrome 17 November 2018

Support for this gig only is provided by Harriet Rose Grant, a local acoustic singer-songwriter with a fine voice. Her songs are mostly of a personal nature (getting dumped and getting drunk; the loss of her mother) but work best when she trades guitar for piano. ‘Home’ is particularly effective. Her set closes with a confident ‘Trouble’ which has a jaunty Beautiful South feel to it. The songs hold the attention of the crowd and she leaves to warm applause.

Harriet Rose Grant at Holmfirth Picturedrome 17 November 2018

Setlist: ?; Drink Till I Drop; Imagine Paradise; Home; Hold On; Trouble.

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