Seth Lakeman

Exeter Cathedral, Exeter on Friday 7 February 2014

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Singer-songwriter/multi-instrumental talent Seth Lakeman brought his diverse repertoire of folk tunes to the beautiful venue that is Exeter Cathedral last Friday. The latest tour is in support of recent release, and 7th album. 'Word of Mouth'. The album comprises 12 new songs inspired by stories and reminiscences compiled around his native West Country. It's based on interviews and tales told by ordinary folk from diverse occupations, from railwaymen and miners, to sailors and dockers. Witnesses to unnatural disasters also feature in the songs, notably the Slapton D-Day disaster, as well as a nod to ancient local history. The album was recorded in the Cornish church of North Tamerton, good preparation for the idyllic settings of a cathedral tour no doubt.

Tonight's band included Lisbee Stainton, an accomplished singer-songwriter/ multi-instrumentalist in her own right, as well as the similarly varied talents of brother Sean, Ben Nicholls, and Cormac Byrne.

There was something of an emotional rollercoaster in the diversity of songs; the set began more low-key with melancholic, storytelling numbers and Seth on tenor guitar. Suitably for the night, songs about mariners and cruel seas then as Storm Ruth (almost unknowingly) battered the walls of the cathedral outside. The second part saw him switch to more trademark fiddle, and the set became that much more up-tempo. The crowd broke from their (seated) ranks to provide a much more upbeat and enjoyable atmosphere. As the crowd became more engaged, cue much dancing and clapping amongst the aisles, not something I've seen here before over the years I must admit.

Overall, much fiddle, vocal harmonies and tenor guitar then, starting more reflective and melancholy and progressing to a quite lively affair. The cathedral provided an excellent setting to showcase new material; the first proper listening audience I'd experienced in some years now personally. You could have heard a pin drop during the quieter songs, and the immense (as venues go) chamber provided excellent acoustics/sound as expected too. Arches can impede views at the venue, though staff had earlier provided sensible and relaxed advice about moving.

As a Devonian, tonight's sold-out performance represented something of the home leg of the tour, along with a further performance at Truro cathedral the following day. Leaving the cathedral doors the weather barrage came as something of a shock, I'd almost forgotten about it all over the course of a few hours.

Setlist: Courier - Take No Rogues - Sender - Blacksmith's Prayer - Solomon Brownie - White Hare - Tiger - Portrait - Saddest Crowd - Last Rider - Each Man - Wanderer - Apple Of His Eye - Colliers - Mariners - Lady of the Sea - High Street Rose - Kitty Jay - Blood Upon Copper - Race To Be King

Seth and the band travel to Europe, initially in support of Suzanne Vega, on the next leg of the tour, Australia follows. A busy schedule of UK festival appearances is already taking shape for the summer, and a tour just announced for October

Seth Lakeman

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article by: Jason Wood

photos by: Jason Wood

published: 11/02/2014 13:22

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