The Square and Compass is as equally famed for serving only pints and pasties through a hatch as its music programme. On a day of glorious sunshine interspersed with torrential showers, Square Fair offered up a day long programme of free live music, food and cider stalls, and craft traders. I first saw Jacob & Drinkwater at Wimborne Minster Folk Festival in June and they were the highlight of the festival. Their CDs have been on repeat in my car since and I was keen to see them play live again.
A duo who could have been named for the hero of an epic space saga and an avenging angel (or perhaps, less poetically, their actual surnames, if not a firm of local solicitors), these legends of the road made a very welcome return to this charming little pub in the heart of the rolling Purbecks in deepest Dorset. With their elevated view from the flower bedecked stage across fields to the open sea the pair commanded both the stage and the attention of the audience, counting a number of superfans amongst their number, who sang and danced along enthusiastically.
Finger picked guitar and emotionally charged vocals from Tobias Ben Jacob, energetic percussive bass and lovely smooth harmonies from Lukas Drinkwater combined to weave a beautiful magic, delivering songs charged with a sort of optimistic melancholy. The delicacy of the guitar and emotional range of Tobias' vocal underpinned by Lukas' bass and harmonies is a winning combination. I found Tobias' guitaring and stage presence, even his look, reminiscent of Ben Howard, my friend saw James Taylor in the duo.
The songs are clearly very personal, and delivered with passion. Many stood out out, including 'Burning Low', the title track of their 2015 EP with funky percussive bass and a catchy chorus. 'Higher than the Moon', contrasting a compelling groove with heartfelt lyrics in a poignant love song. And 'Rough Diamonds', which the first time I heard it I thought captured a bit of the essence of Nizlopi's 'JCB' and had the audience singing along. The end of their set came too soon, the audience vocally demanding more.
The pair have a relaxed and charming stage presence, an easy camaraderie. Tobias the 'hero with the fragile heart' and Lukas affable and witty. It's hard not to like them and their music, long may their partnership prevail.
Words Kitty Chandrilla, Photos: Jo Elkington
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