02/12/2011 | Seth Lakeman – Cheltenham Town Hall, Cheltenham

Lisa Ward


From the first few beats of tonight, there’s a sense that it’s going to be loud; even the opening drum beat mimics Queen’s We Will Rock You, a perfect summary perhaps for what unfolds. As someone who loves Seth when his arm is moving at 100mph across his fiddle, there’s a sense of dismay with the newer songs, Blacksmith’s Prayer in particular feeling somewhat middle of the road. It’s almost as if somewhere someone has picked a set of songs based on radio friendliness rather than highlighting Seth’s natural abilities.

That being said, opener More Than Money is instantly catchy, reminiscent of The Circle Grows in its ability to lure you in within moments. Meanwhile The Sender had the potential to be a Seth classic ballad, but tonight as he battles on through feedback it loses its power to the point where I for one wished he’d simply stopped and begun again once the technical glitch had been sorted. Thankfully, Setting Of The Sun follows, with a softer sound that the rest of the night, effortlessly highlighting the musical talent of both Seth and band.

Nevertheless the middle of the night seems to fall away, Salt From Our Veins becoming the only other song to stand out from the new material. This leaves the finale of The Colliers, Race To Be King, and Blood Upon Coppers to steal the show and make the lasting imprint. Whilst recorded Tales From The Barrel House oozes with variation and breadth, it seems somehow lost in translation in the live arena. As if the concept of recording in places such as disused mines and old smithy’s is more key to the recordings that might first appear.

That’s not to say it’s all doom and gloom, certainly the crowd seem enticed, but there’s a definite increase in movement and cheer when the likes of Kitty Jay and The Hurlers are aired. Here Seth’s vocals combine with his frenzied fiddle to create a natural yet powerful sound. Perhaps it’s simply that Seth’s latest album is relatively new, and the songs have yet to be infused into the audience’s conscious. More likely it’s that the sound tonight is for the most part over-egged, losing the subtle variations which bring the album to life.

www.sethlakeman.com