As Beth Porter told the crowd on Friday night, she couldn't quite believe her luck. As a locally based musician she phoned the Bath Folk Festival and asked if she and her band, the Availables, could play a gig. So they said sure, how about supporting Lau at the Komedia!
Beth and her fellow musicians certainly lived up to the occasion. The singer/cellist/ukulele player was joined for the first time by in-demand violist/vocalist Lucy Farrell (and fellow member of Eliza Carthy's Wayward Band) and Availables mainstays Jools Scott, on piano, and Pete Gibbs, on double bass. Her husband Ben also took to the stage for a Bookshop Band tune.
Her music is beautiful and complex with shifting melodies and intertwining harmonies. There is plenty of ambiguity and mystery, from the uncertain relationship and mood swings of Jack to the eerie beyond-the-grave murder ballad Salty Water.
The Lau concert nearly didn't get off the ground. Some of Martin Green's unique, self-made, electronic machines were lost in transit from Edinburgh by easyJet and failed to turn up at the gig in time. The three musicians, however, were unphased and gave us a blistering set of, as Martin explained, mainly old favourites.
It's no secret that Lau are the best live band in the country, there's a reason why they keep on getting awards. Kris Drever, on guitar and vocals, Aiden O'Rourke, on fiddle, and accordionist Martin play immaculately and interlock intuitively, encompassing jigs, Lal Waterson's knowing Midnight Feast and moments of total, adrenaline-fuelled frenzy.
The highlight of the night was a spine-tingling rendition of Ghosts, a moving, near lament mixing personal history and the plight of refugees.
Unlike easyJet, Lau really delivered the goods.
There are only so many hours in a day and only so many gigs we can get to. We'd really like to expand our national coverage of the live scene as it remains the life blood of music.
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