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The Ironworks, Oswestry, 30 March 2011

Photos by Noel Buckley

Larkin Poe, photo by Noel Buckley

There was a time when music was consumed on a hi-fi, on the couch, big speakers, lights dimmed. Well this intimate gig at The Ironworks was almost like the modern equivalent: candle-lit, leather couches, and with a band reproducing accurately their recorded work.

GRTR! favourites Larkin Poe played a small showcase gig in London last October and are now embarking on their first UK tour which takes them from Sussex to Scotland; hopefully some of the venues will be just as intimate and welcoming.

Larkin Poe, photo by Noel Buckley

Larkin Poe, photo by Noel Buckley

The two Lovell sisters Rebecca and Megan broke away from big sis Jessica, with their own eclectic blend of Americana, bluegrass and soft rock.  In another age, photogenic and musically interesting, they may have been signed to Reprise.

They've already received plaudits from the critics and older musicians who know a thing or two about a good song and holding an audience, notably Elvis Costello. And there's no doubt that this grass roots haul of UK venues will help them bolster their growing following.

The girls have released four exquisite EPs themed and fired by the seasons, and they played a fair selection of tracks tonight, demonstrating their intriguing blend of musical styles.

Whilst it is easy to detect their bluegrass/country roots, there is a lot more going on in the mix, sometimes a darker edge that's perhaps striking for girls of barely twenty one summers and seemingly untainted by life's struggles. And this is perhaps the striking thing: a surprising musical maturity in what is a well-populated and well-aged genre.

Larkin Poe, photo by Noel Buckley

If there is one criticism - and this is personal taste and preference but could be a factor in more wider acceptance for the girls - there is a lack of very immediate, dare I say, more commercial tunes for true crossover appeal.  Part of this also rests with the delicate and respectful production values on those EPs but, who knows, maybe Rick Rubin would make a fist of it anyway.

For some listeners this may only add to the appeal (this one included), but it almost seems like Larkin Poe are twenty years older and playing like they've already had the "hits".

It would have been nice to have heard, for example, 'Cure For The Common Cold' and 'Horseshoes And Hand Grenades', two of the more accessible tracks off the latest EPs and two songs that are more likely to catch the ear and the wallet of the casual lounge lizard. Intriguingly two other superb songs 'Burglary' and 'Just In Case' were crossed off the set list tonight.  I'm sure they'll appear later.

Tracks like 'Principle Of Silver Lining', 'Enough For You' and 'Spooked' push the boundaries of bluegrass and rock and the band's great musicality shines through and maintains quality control throughout. So an encore of Hendrix's 'Bleeding Heart' was perfectly executed and allowed the band a little more space to rock out.

If you are a rock fan, Larkin Poe are probably best construed as a guilty pleasure. But if that is you, do spread the word.

Set-List: Long Hard Fall/In My Time Of Dying/ Teardrop/ We Intertwine/ The Principle Of Silver Lining/Praying For The Bell/ I Belong To Love/ Trance/ Enough For You/ Sea Song/ Shadows Of Ourselves/ Word From The Wise/ Spooked/ My Home/ Bleeding Heart

Review by David Randall

Photos by Noel Buckley


Launch Photo Gallery

Larkin Poe are featured regularly in our singer-songwriter sequence on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio (Mon-Fri, 14-00-16:00 GMT+1)

Podcast (Includes the interview first broadcast on Sunday 3 April and exclusive live tracks)

Album review

Larkin Poe play UK dates March/April 2011

March 30, 2011 The Iron Works Oswestry
March 31, 2011 Live @ The Institute Kelvedon
April 1, 2011 The Elephant & Castle Lewes
April 2, 2011 The Slaughtered Lamb London
April 3, 2011 Acoustic Roots Festival Barnsley
April 4, 2011 The Wheel House Barnsley
April 5, 2011 Swindon Arts Centre Wiltshire
April 6, 2011 Chapel Arts Centre Bath
April 7, 2011 The Ferry Glasgow
April 8, 2011 Gateshead Central Tyne & Wear
April 9, 2011 Eden Court Theatre Inverness

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