Review: Larkin Poe - Riverside, Apr 6

"Larkin Poe brought their country rock music from the depths of Georgia to Newcastle on 6th April with a blast." - Carl Smith Valdez shares his thoughts on the show.

Carl Smith Valdez
25th April 2019
Photo Credit: Justin Higuchi at Flickr

Larkin Poe brought their country rock music from the depths of Georgia to Newcastle on 6th April with a blast. The band, led by the Lovell sisters, Rebecca and Megan, showcased their latest album Venom & Faith. Riverside was swamped not only by the residents, but also by their well-dedicated fan base who have willingly followed them on tour.

The night was opened by Foreign Affairs, a Bristol based country rock band, comprised of brothers Adam and Lawrence Purnell. The Purnell brothers immediately captivated the crowd as they played guitar and percussion with great dexterity. Their performance encapsulates their diverse interest and passion in music. Foreign Affairs delivered songs filled with powerful lyrics and catchy choruses; the audiences began singing along and filling in the gaps.

‘Piece of Work’ stood out amongst the crowd with many swaying in time to its contagious Bo Diddley beat. Lawrence’s vocals ranged seamlessly from a low timbre to a soulful falsetto which blends perfectly with his brother. Adam played exciting guitar licks, stimulating slides and solos. The talented duo certainly warmed Riverside with their eloquent and visceral set.

After a fifteen-minute break, the crowd gathered around the stage. The lights go out and one can almost hear the eagerness of the crowd. The stage illuminates as Rebecca and Megan both walk on.

Larkin Poe transports their Southern history roots into the present with a fascinating twist. Their cover struck nostalgia, whilst also encapsulating the younger crowds. Leadbelly’s ‘Black Betty’ might be more recognised by many with Ram Jam’s seventies cover, but Larkin Poe hauntingly deconstructs and reassembles it. Rebecca’s melodious vocals replicates the cover and reclaims it.

Lovell’s cover choices from ‘Preachin’ Blues’ by Son House to the traditional ‘John the Revelator’ by Blind Willy Johnson goes further to show their ability to reimagine old blues in an enlivening way. Their covers fascinatingly become a tribute to the original artists.

However, it is their original compositions that makes Larkin Poe distinctive. In particular, ‘Mad As A Hatter’ brings mental health into light. The sisters spoke openly about their grandfather who suffered with schizophrenia. The audience are given a glimpse of the personal life of the artists. Their music almost has the power to bring awareness to the stigma that remains prevalent today.  Through their poignant performance, their music career and personal life intertwine.

Larkin Poe’s stage presence is enough to display a special bond between the sisters. Rebecca’s forceful voice harmonises perfectly with Megan’s angelic backing vocals. The sisters regularly smiled and glanced at each other in between tracks. There were moments when the pair moved closer to one another; a strong foundation of a family. The band’s vibrancy was infectious and was reciprocated by the crowd singing and hanging onto every words of their songs.

Larkin Poe and Foreign Affairs both finished the night incredibly, with rapturous applause and cheers from every corner of the venue. Through their genuine performances, the younger and the older crowd unites together as a family.

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