THE LONDON ROOTS FESTIVAL
Line-up: Sam Kelly and The Lost Boys with special guests Honey and the Bear
Date: 11th November, 2018
Location: Bush Hall, London
Review By: Gary Smith (LCM)
A ‘Remembrance Sunday’ gig at the wonderful Bush Hall in London saw one of the UK’s finest young folk bands headline a very memorable night of music. It was full of passion, high energy and high quality music.
Sam Kelly and The Lost Boys have gained a worthy reputation as an very exciting live band. They are also a folk super group, full of very talented award winning individual musicians in their own right. They played a slightly reduced regular line-up at Bush Hall with Graham Coe (The Jellyman’s Daughter) and Archie Churchill-Moss (MMR) missing. But still had the awarding winning Sam Kelly (The Changing Room), Jamie Francis (The Changing Room, Stark), Toby Shaer (Seth Lakeman, Carousel), Ciaran Algar (Greg Russell & Ciaran Algar) and Evan Carson (The Willows, The Changing Room, Ange Hardy) in their ranks.
Special guests Honey and Bear, the newly married duo of Jon Hart and Lucy Sampson. had joined Sam and the band on their tour in March last year and the combination worked perfectly again. Hailing from Suffolk their great blend of Folk and bluesy Americana really complemented SKATLB’s more high energy Folk Rock style. I’m always fascinated by multi-instrumentalists and both Jon and Lucy swapped their multitude of instruments with ease. Their infectious music and tight rich harmonies adding to the mix. Subject material included the long distance yachtswoman Ellen MacArthur, Dulwich under the sea, a lovely song dedicated to their grandparents and the beautiful ‘Sailor’s Daughter’.
After a short break Sam and The Lost Boys opened with the upbeat ‘The Kings Shilling’ from the band’s self titled debut album. The album version also features Kitty Macfarlane, who has just released her excellent debut album also produced by Sam.
Included on Sam’s 2015 EP ‘Spokes’ ‘Hickathrift’ tells the story of a giant killer. Tom Hickathrift is a legendary figure of East Anglian English folklore, a character very similar to Jack the Giant Killer. 'Angeline The Baker' (Roud 1834) was written by Stephen Foster for the Christy Minstrels and first published in 1850. The original Appalachian tune laments the loss of a female slave sent away by her owners. The song was also featured on Jamie Francis’ debut solo album.
The title track from Sam debut EP ‘Spokes’ followed but not before an anecdote about the song being played a few times on BBC Radio Shropshire on its release, enabling the band to buy a Freddo between them with the PRS radio royalties. Sam mentioned that the song was also played on the TV series ‘Hollyoaks’.
Sam revealed that Jamie and himself had recently signed a publishing deal. ‘Like Lennon and McCartney’ Sam said ‘You now have Kelly and Francis’. ‘Francis and Kelly I thought’ corrected Jamie with a smile. ‘He doesn’t say much, but when he does…..it’s solid gold’ said Ciaran laughing.
Taken from Sam’s second album ‘Picking Up The Pieces’ with ‘The Changing Room’, ‘Gwrello Glaw’ meaning ‘Let It Rain’ is a stunning song sung in Cornish. Sam mentioned that he played the song at Jon and Lucy’s wedding as their first dance. We returned to a nautical theme for a dark tale in which a lady's lover long lost at sea, returns to her and persuades her to come away with him to a distant land. After boarding the ship, in the true traditions of folk music, she quickly realizes all is not as it seems......[spoiler alert] one of the versions of this traditional song is called 'The Demon Ship'. The love interest of the traditional song 'The Bony Lass of Fyvie' gave them the title of their latest album 'Pretty Peggy'. On the album version the band are joined on the track by the wonderful Cara Dillon.
Described as ‘the stuff of nightmares’ by Sam, the ‘Dullahan’ is a headless Irish horseman who collects the souls of the dying. With its excellent high energy finish, this song is also found on the bands debut album. Next was a song dedicated to Sam’s grandparents who inspired his love of folk music, the beautiful ‘I’ll Give You My Voice’. Sam mentioned that you can find himself and his grandfather playing music together on YouTube.
First collected in the late 70’s from the North East of England and learnt from the singing of M. Knopfler, was a super high energy version of ‘Sultans of Swing’. It’s always a crowd favourite and it didn’t take much to have the audience singing and clapping along.
'The Close Shave', a very clever and funny variation on the traditional song 'Barrack Street'. It tells the unfortunate tale of gold miners in the a New Zealand town, cross dressing, gross deception, heavy drinking, robbery and a never ending cycle. The personal and tender 'Chasing Shadows' written by Sam is a song for a close friend and for anyone currently going through a tough time. Sam also mentioned that is now available on all BA flights, as it has been added recently to their playlist.
To finish the main set the band played ‘Greenland Whale’, a very catchy high tempo traditional whaling shanty is sometimes know as 'The Whale Catchers' or 'The Twenty Third of March'. It's a real toe-tapper with a great hooks and a sing-a-long chorus.
Their encore song ‘Healing Hands’ was followed with a couple of tunes, 'Josh's Slip' by Toby and 'Rookery Lane' by Ciaran which form the uptempo 'Shy Guy's Serve' set.
With a standing ovation and the sound of a very happy audience ringing in their ears the band knew that they had performed one of their best London gig to date. Another excellent addition to The London Roots Festival.