Lankum – St. George's Church, Brighton – 18th May 2018
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Lankum - St. George's Church - 18th May 2018

Lankum – St. George's Church, Brighton – 18th May 2018

Formerly called Lynched and now called Lankum, the four-piece, punk-inspired Irish band have found favour amongst folkies, alternative festival and anti-establishment types, as well as a sprinkling of the more conservative Brighton Festival fanbase, under whose auspices this gig was promoted.

Their very first time in Brighton, Lankum are riding the wave of critical applause following the release of the stunning Between the Earth and Sky, a brilliantly rustic drone-folk album released on Rough Trade last year. However, it seems some people are here to hear reels and jigs, such is their enthusiasm and desire to stand up and dance. That isn't going to happen here. Not much, anyway, as Lankum's music is generally a mix of the mournful, dark and sombre, as epitomised by first song tonight, 'What Will We Do When We Have No Money'. Harmonium-led, drenched in tradition, and sung by the mesmerisingly nasal-rich voice of Radie Peat, with harmony backing from the rest of the band, its dark underbelly still has a big place in today's, supposedly richer, environment.

So it continues, the band using a mix of Uillean pipes, recorders, accordion, concertina, guitar and fiddle in imparting a sense of sadness and despair, mixed in with glimmers of hope and optimism. Such as on 'The Old Main Drag', a Shane MacGowan original from the mid-80s, given a more sombre a cappella treatment with just accordion for accompaniment. There’s also the anti-war song 'Peat Bog Soldiers' which showcases the very tight and expressive harmonies of the band, as does their rendition of the rare traditional, and rather bleak, 'Sheepstealer'. This segues into the original composition 'The Townie Polka', built by a repetitive fiddle melody and backed by pipes, harmonium and guitar in creating a marching drone, that slowly builds - like from dawn to morning - a radiant musicality offering purpose and yet meditative qualities.

For sure, Lankum interject the downtrodden and downbeat nature of the music with funny interludes, and musical moments, and reveal that one of the books of the Artistic Director of this year's Brighton Festival, David Shrigley, sits proudly in the toilet of one of the band members. Lankum, you feel, won't let the bastards grind you down.

Elsewhere, Lankum perform more songs from their previous 2014 album Cold Old Fire such as the short but sweet 'Father Had A Knife', and the ancient traditional 'The Tri-Coloured House', before returning to 'The Granite Gaze' from Between the Earth and Sky, a deeply incisive and bitter song about division and enslavement. Finally, there's the opportunity for some shake, rattle and roll, the band coming out with 'The Old Man Over The Sea' which eventually morphs into a semi-knees up instrumental, whence much whoopin' and a-hollerin' prevailed.

Jeff Hemmings




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