24/03/2012 | Seth Lakeman – The Assembly, Leamington Spa

Lisa Ward

Round two of the Barrel House tour and it’s clear things have been shaken up a bit since I last saw the set. Gone is the queen style opening and in it’s place a more atmospheric start which leads effortlessly into More Than Money and it’s stomping beat. Likewise Blacksmith’s Prayer is treated to a does of sweeping double bass, echoing the emotion of the album whilst Hard Road brings the night back to the foot stomping numbers, which Seth’s fans have come to know and love.

It’s clear that many in the audience are keen to hear the older numbers, fiddle lead The Hurlers receiving rapturous applause and The Colliers being granted full backing vocals on the chorus from the crowd. Yet as ever, it’s Kitty Jay which everyone seems most keen to hear, and as Seth launches into the frantic number, I can’t help but think when you create such a powerful song, you become victim of your own success, the crowd clearly waiting for the same number every time. That’s not to say it’s not outstanding, and Seth’s ability to also make the song visually appealing goes a long way to mark his talents, but for most sadly everything is centred around this number.

Still Seth seems unwilling to fill the entire set with up-tempo numbers, and whilst Blood Upon Copper allows for a near perfect ho-down moment, it’s the softer Changes which marks him apart, not only as an excellent musician, but also as a varied and sympathetic lyricist and vocalist. Meanwhile Solomon Browne and Setting Of The Sun juxtapose each other, highlighting his ability to seek inspiration from the modern world and to rework traditional arrangements respectively, all in all creating a diverse set which swells and grows with each song.

The only downside of the night (and perhaps the new album) is how similar The Artist is to The Circle Grows. Though when you listen side by side there are subtle shades of difference, tonight I cannot seem to separate the two, and the former feels like something of a second rate rip off from one of the best tracks of Hearts and Minds. Still, this slight nuance aside, it clear Seth might be trying to shake things up on the recording side of things (some of Tales From The Barrel House being recorded down a mine) but when it comes to the live arena, the focus is still firmly on creating a solid set, which leaves little room for complaint.

 www.sethlakeman.co.uk

[nggallery id=130]