Live Review | The Wheelhouse, Wombwell | Review by Allan Wilkinson
Fresh from their weekend appearance at the Barnsley Acoustic Roots Festival, where the band had the luxury of space on the large Kingstone School Hall stage, Larkin Poe squeezed into the relatively minute Wheelhouse for an intimate evening of fun and music. It came as no surprise then when our host Hedley Jones announced before the second set that tonight’s gig was ‘just unbelievably good’; of course the audience unanimously agreed. With two sets filled with Larkin Poe originals, which just happens to include some of the most highly melodic songs on the current Americana scene, the band instantly won over the sell-out audience with no problem whatsoever. Following a nice laid-back set of songs courtesy of Nottingham singer-songwriter Owen Harvey, no stranger to this venue, Larkin Poe took to the space where the stage normally stands, to start their first set with the feel-good and infectiously melodic “Long Hard Fall”, possibly the first song we in the UK heard just over a year ago, being the opening song from their first EP release. This song alone demonstrated that the band can do justice to the songs live just as well as on record, if not better.
The Lovell siblings Rebecca and Megan, together with Chad Melton on drums and Vince Llagan on bass, went on to play some, if not all, the best songs from each of their seasonal EPs, Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter including “The Principle of Silver Lining”, “We Intertwine”, “Teardrop” and “Praying For The Bell”. With charisma and charm, Rebecca dominated the show, with her infectious personality and uniquely gutsy vocal prowess, whilst Megan, the ‘studious one’, stoically observed with a quiet serenity from the side. The second set saw the band loosen up with a mixture of Larkin Poe’s more sensitive songs, which Rebecca refers to as ‘low key material’, such as “Free Like a Bird”, “Distance” and the tension-filled “Burglary”. Towards the end of the set the band played one of Rebecca’s most heartfelt songs about home, simply entitled “My Home”, which has an astonishing bluegrass coda, showcasing the duos’ breathtaking dobro/mandolin sparring credentials, lest we forget these two musicians have a background steeped in bluegrass. Finishing with an astonishing take on Jimi Hendrix’s “Bleeding Heart”, which gave each of the musicians the space to take on a solo, the band could not possibly be let out of the place without at least a couple of encores, which included the fiddle tune “Big Sciota” and finally the Don Williams song “We’re all the Way”. By the end of the two sets even the most devoted Larkin Poe fans would have to admit that all the material they know and love had been played. What more can one ask for at a concert? Great musicianship, great performances, entertaining between-song banter and all your songs done. There you go, the perfect gig.