Live Review: Larkin Poe – Stereo Glasgow, 22 May 2016 Plus Gallery

Larkin Poe proved they are hot property as they rocked a sweat-soaked Stereo.
On a night where you can feel the sweat trickling down your back into a pool at the bottom of your spine the Glasgow basement that is Stereo is packed and sweltering by the time Larkin Poe take to the stage.
The Larkin Poe sisters, Rebecca and Megan Lovell, are releasing another version of their 2014 album ‘Kin’ with a track list including plenty of boisterous new songs. When they crank up the guitars and jump straight into ‘Summertime’ it’s obvious that the live show will be even thunderous than the record.
‘Don’t’ is stripped of its pop sensibilities as the sisters swagger across the stage wielding their instruments with the same energy and feistiness that they put into their vocal harmonies. Rebecca’s astounding vocal range is shown off as she shifts effortlessly from rock goddess to soul diva and back again. Those who have come to the show expecting to hear the Larkin Poe that appeared on their earlier work, or even the softer moments of ‘Kin’, may be disappointed. I am delighted.
They begin ‘Hey Sinner’ by telling the now warmed-up crowd that “this is our version of a hymn that we wrote”. The slow, heavy riff has the head-nod inducing quality of Deep Purple’s ‘Smoke On The Water’ before marching into their customary cover of ‘Black Betty’. ‘When God Closes A Door’ – a welcome addition to ‘Reskinned’ after quickly becoming a live favourite – and ‘Trouble In Mind’ both continue the catchy roots-infused riffs. A cover of Bob Dylan’s ‘New Pony’ features a riotous slide solo from Megan while she shuts her eyes, face contorted.
The set races along with the only slower songs being the grooving ‘Banks Of Allatoona’ and ‘Dead Stars’ – a song written about the history of mental illness in their family. There are few lighter moments in this set and Rebecca’s mandolin is notable by its absence.
The lyrics of ‘Blunt’ ask how we can affect positive change on the world. Although Megan enjoys a sisterly dig in pointing out to Rebecca that “this song is very cynical and you wrote the lyrics” it’s a clever song and a demonstration of a desire to ask important questions through music. They are already developing a back catalogue of classics that are as intelligent as they are ridiculously catchy.
A fiery ‘Sucker Puncher’, with Rebecca’s vocals at full throttle, and the shift from the rowdy ‘Jailbreak’ into AC/DC clearly shows their intentions for the future. They are a band that wants to – and does – rock.
The now familiar strains of ‘Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)’ close the show with Rebecca performing some stunning vocal gymnastics. However the highlight of the night for me is ‘I Hate The Way’, which is rootsy rock ‘n’ roll that still manages to sound fresh and modern.
Larkin Poe’s heavier sound may leave some of the folk music fans a bit cold on this tour, but their rock-fuelled fire is now burning bright and hot.

Set list
1. Summertime
2. Don’t
3. Hey Sinner > Black Betty
4. Tom Devil
5. I Hate The Way
6. Dead Stars
7. When God Closes A Door
8. New Pony
9. Blunt
10. Sucker Puncher
11. Trouble In Mind
12. Banks Of Allatoona
13. Jailbreak > AC/DC
14. Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)
Photos © Rhiannon Ormerod

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