Larkin Poe - Tunnels, Bristol
Turning on the radio on a Sunday morning invariably takes you into a world of middle age blandness. If it's not Steve Wright and his endless, immortal, mortifying love songs then it's the similarly ageless Terry Wogan and his cringe-inducing interview segment. His most recent show subjected Georgian sisters Larkin Poe to his trademarked torture; case in point, after they get to the end of an explanation about the name of the band (short version: Larkin Poe is a great x4-ish grandfather), the venerable Irish interviewer follows up with “Was he a scary person?” Cue slight puzzlement from the sisters before Wogan realizes he died many years before the sisters were even born. And that’s in the first 30 seconds.
Anyhow, Rebecca and Megan Lovell released their first full length album, Kin, in 2014, garnering praise for both it and their festival appearances (“Best discovery” at Glastonbury according to The Observer). The guitar-wielding duo mainly grabbed attention for their more robust take on rootsy folk and arrive in Bristol at the end of their Spring tour, before returning in the summer for a busy festival schedule. With Kin apparently closer to their live show than any of their previously recorded EPs and mini-albums, the simple set-up of Marlon Patton on drums, with the sisters on vocals (Rebecca taking standard guitar and mandolin, Megan sporting the lap steel for the whole show) suggests it'll be a trim and focused set.
Drawing heavily from their most recent release, the Lovells show their versitility by taking on Native American influences (‘Mad As A Hatter’), overt folk (‘Crown Of Fire’) and some mega blues riffing on the terrific ‘Dandelion’. The almost acapella ‘Elephant’ - with its “It’s in the room now” refrain - echoes spookily through the crowd. ‘Jailbreak’ and ‘Don’t’ are two of the standouts of the night, while ‘Banks of Allatoona’ and Megan’s lap steel solo leads up to Rebecca’s outstanding vocal delivery of ‘Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)’ which blows the doors off the venue. It’s a mouth agape ending.
It might be remiss to recant Larkin Poe’s own Wogan anecdote (a pat on the cheek and an offer of cakes for being good) but it’s not one they'll want to be reminded of too often. The LP live experience though? That's one you'll want to catch over and over.