Larkin Poe at the Bullingdon Review

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On Sunday night I took a 70 mile drive to Oxford to see Larkin Poe at the Bullingdon. I’d had a ticket to their London gig in May but had to miss out, so I was delighted when this gig was announced just a few days later and after a couple of hours of listening to ‘Reskinned’ in the car on the way I was really in the mood for the gig.

After a quick drink in the bar next door, I headed into the venue itself and I was nicely impressed, the venue intimate without being small, perfect for creating a great atmosphere. It wasn’t long before the support act came on – Jonny Payne and the Thunder. They are a local based band and I have to say I was mightily impressed. They did a set of 6 or 7 songs and without knowing any of the songs, I moved through the stages of standing still, to foot tapping to head nodding quickly, which is always a good thing. The highlight of the set for me was a song called ‘Toronto’ and the band did a great job of generating a pre-Larkin Poe buzz.

After a short break, Larkin Poe appeared on the stage to a rapturous applause, joined by Kevin McGowan on the drums and Kelly McCarty on bass. The Lovell sisters started off with the brilliant ‘Summertime Sunset’ and the gig was rocking immediately and you already knew you were in for a great night. My particular favorite song is ‘Don’t’ and this anthemic number is just brilliant live. At this point I was already sold.

The gig continued with great numbers such as ‘Tom Devil’, ‘When God Closes a Door’ and Bob Dylan’s ‘New Pony’. What fascinated me throughout the gig was the interaction between Rebecca and Megan. Rebecca is all action, all the time, playing the guitar and singing energetically, even singing between the songs at times, while Megan is more reserved, focusing on playing that lap steel guitar in that unique style of hers, where the strings of the guitar are face up. This makes for a nice contrast and the dynamic works really well, Rebecca the more vocal of the two, while Megan grabs hold of the stage when she plays one of those brilliant guitar solos. You quickly realize that just a single look from one to the other is understood immediately, while there were some real touching moments between the two, particularly the moment near the end when Rebecca laid her head on Megan’s back in the picture above.

‘Blunt’ was a particular highlight, which was quickly followed by the equally brilliant ‘Tornado’. Throughout the night the band bought a number of songs to a brilliant rousing end, all four members of the band playing amazingly well together and I must have mouthed the word ‘wow’ at least half a dozen times.

The penultimate song of the night was ‘Trouble In Mind’ and Larkin Poe got the audience interaction going, pitting one side of the crowd against the other in a who could sing louder contest (I was on Team Megan and I can assure you I was part of the winning team!). The final song was Jailbreak, which merged into an ACDC number and once again, a brilliant crescendo bought the set to an amazing end.

Of course, we weren’t going to let the Lovell Sisters off without an encore and this time Rebecca and Megan appeared alone. They finished the night with a song with a message that everybody deserves to ‘Get Home Safe’ from a gig, a night out or having gone anywhere. This was a beautiful, poignant number which reflected many of the troubles in the world today and made for the perfect end to the night.

If you haven’t seen Larkin Poe, you must and soon. I was lucky enough to see them in an intimate venue, but the rise of the Lovell sisters means that it won’t be long before they are playing venues on a much grander scale. They were simply brilliant.

Concert image courtesy of Jez Brown

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