If you happen to be new to the name Seth Lakeman – or the sublime folk music he delivers, especially during this tour to celebrate his latest, multi-award winning album Word of Mouth – then on the evidence provided last night at The Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, you are missing a true musical treat.
Dressed all in pale blue and armed with his trusty fiddle, the former Entourage member takes to the stage with his ensemble of four accompanying musicians and ripped through this quite superb auditorium like a storm, providing songs and music that are at once “rocky” and upbeat, then mellow and emotionally charged enough to cause more than several pauses for thought.
These latter emotional response are particularly evident during The Shores of Normandy, a tribute to those brave men’s experiences who fought in Normandy, and the dedication he makes to his partner during The Portrait of my Wife.
He sacrificed the use of the microphone to stand on the stage apron to deliver a faultless rendition and impeaches the audience to join in the chorus of “raise a glass to the one you love” without even the slightest hint of schmaltzy sentimentality all aided and abetted by some serene, subtle lighting and the Celtic / Cornish imagery that accompanies each song courtesy of a giant screen suspended at the rear of the stage.
Lakeman’s is a performance to savour, but it is not merely his alone that makes this performance special. Lisbee Stainton on backing vocals provides all of the harmony of a welcome breeze on a hot summer’s evening, adding a depth to the faultless lyricism that is almost oceanic at times.
On percussion, Cormac Byrne drives the machine along with some of the most energetic work to have been witnessed on this stage, all of which is more than ably assisted by the cool rhythms supplied by the mighty Ben Nichols on Double Bass.
Indeed, the electricity Lakeman and Nichols conjure up during the Hold Your Fire Fiddle / Bass duel is almost worth the ticket price alone, such is the sheer voltage the two manufacture.
As for the guitar and banjo playing skills of Jack Rutter, these need only be watched and admired such is his sublime control yet undiluted enthusiasm he displays for all that he does.
Yet it is the cool, quiet charm of Seth Lakeman – and the fact that each word he sings and each chord he plays has clearly been written with passion and individually dipped in love – which truly stands out, and marks the 2014 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards Best Album and Best Band winner as a must see event for any future appearance in the Merseyside area, because outstanding honestly does not do this man’s skills justice.
Seth Lakeman: Word of Mouth tour
The Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
February 4, 2015
Purple Revolver Rating: ***** Awe inspiring stars