On a dismal night in the centre of Bristol, a long queue had formed on the cobbles outside of The Fleece mixed with young and older folk.
With no tour bus in site, anyone wandering past would question what had attracted such a large group of people on a Thursday evening. Well, tonight the attraction was two young American sisters straight out of Atlanta, Georgia, better known as Larkin Poe, who had a ‘SOLD OUT’ night ahead.
After 4 weeks on the road touring Europe, these hot-blooded root-rockers had landed bang in the centre of Bristol to give their fans a taste of their southern-style bluegrass tunes.
Support tonight was from local Bristol based band Foreign Affairs (or Sweet F.A. which was stamped on their bass drum) which was coincidentally made up of two brothers, Adam and Lawrence Purnell. Intentional or not, these guys have been fortunate enough to accompany Larkin Poe on their entire tour and have been travelling to countries and cities they have never been before.
As they walked on to the stage, they were greeted by a full house of fans that were crammed into every corner of the venue. With a stage crowded with mics and instruments, they both ploughed straight into their first track of their short but sweet set before any introductions were made, which seemed to be the norm nowadays.
Both Lawrence and Adam were multi-instrumentalists playing guitar and percussion with such passion and enthusiasm. This country-rock duo fit the bill perfectly tonight with Lawrence’s harmonious vocals and Adam’s stout country riffs on guitar. Their set was flawless and meaningful in every way with plenty of crowd participation to fill the gaps in between songs.
These wholesome brothers felt at home tonight and most certainly warmed the venue up with their raw and powerful set.
More information on the band can be found here www.foreignaffairsmusic.co.uk
After a fifteen-minute break, the stage was cleared and the heat had started to rise as the crowd drifted further towards the stage. Unsurprisingly, hungry male fans had lined its edge as they waited eagerly to catch a glimpse of these American beauties.
The lights go out, and you can almost hear the crowd’s anticipation before freelance
drummer Kevin McGowan and bassist Brent Tarka Layman hit the stage. Rebecca and Megan Lovell both walk on and the room lights up as the crowd cheers.
Launching straight into their first track ‘Summertime Sunset’ the presence of the sisters is something else. Full of energy, they tore up the stage within minutes. Young and fresh-faced, they moved back and forth to take turns in being centre stage.
Before the sisters start their cover of Ram Jam’s ‘Black Betty’ the crowd were given a bit of a history lesson on the name Larkin Poe which was actually the name of their great, great, great, great grandfather. And what better way to keep that name alive!
The crowd were lively, shouting out to the girls with requests – ‘there’s some real livewires out there tonight’ Rebecca joked as she said that it’s the sign of a good night when your feet stick to the floor. That banter continued in between songs, like everyone in the venue was one big happy family.
Considering the girls had been on tour for 4 weeks now, the relationship between them on stage was tight and the atmosphere they created was warm and infectious. Rebecca had her own technician close by to pass her an array of guitars from the rack whilst Megan held her lap steel like it had become a part of her. With a vast amount of independently released music under their belt, there was no doubt about how these girls had made it big in the American blues-rock world.
Playing an eclectic mix of songs mainly from their 3rd studio album ‘Peach’ there were also a handful from their latest album ‘Venom & Faith’ including ‘Bleach Blonde Bottle Blues’ and ‘Blue Ridge Mountains’, a song that Rebecca had written about their home town, which had that chunky heel-tapping clap to get you moving.
As the venue was full of phones in the air trying to catch every possible movement of the night, Rebecca spoke frankly about their next song ‘Mad Hatter’ which was written about their grandfather who had suffered with his mental health – an issue that has always been taboo in the past. The song was full of smooth and silky harmonies, heavy drums and haunting slide guitar which put you right in amongst the turmoil that the family had suffered. But the song was also an incredible insight into the connection between the sisters and their roots.
The girls fed the crowd with their sexy guitar riffs and solos impeccably in those tight black jeans and big boots. Chatting about the amazing people that she had met on tour, Rebecca was in ore of the crowd and truly grateful for the support they had been given by fans. Despite the negativity that social media can bring, everything had been nothing but positive for them.
The rest of the band were introduced during the last song, ‘Wanted Woman/AC/DC’, which was taken from their ‘Peach’ album and had a much more rock ‘n’ roll feel to it to nicely end their set. The girls were on fire and truly showed their fans that they are a force to be reckoned with.
An unexpected encore ended the night and another song from their ‘Peach’ album ‘Come on in my Kitchen’ and this was the only time in the night that the four band members were equally at the front of the stage. Rebecca had dedicated this song to the late Robert Johnson who was one of the most influential artists in the American Blues scene and only provided the lead vocals whilst Megan lead the song on slide guitar and McGowan and Layman the percussion. In true American style, a bow to the crowd finished the set on a high. But what would have also ended the night well was a song with the support band.
Now these girls have certainly made their mark tonight. They’ve kept the crowd hungry the entire time and have surely left male fans hot under the collar with their sheer beauty and talent. No one wanted the night to end.
Rebecca and Megan have gained many more fans and have certainly woken Bristol up with their strong presence. They undoubtedly represent the female American Blues/Rock genre and are the kind of girls you just wanna hang out with and grab a root beer.
Larkin Poe continue their tour across the world by heading to Australia this coming week.
Details of Larkin Poe can be found here www.larkinpoe.com
Set list –
Trouble in Mind
Bleach Blond Bottle Blues
John the Revelator
Might as Well Be Me
Mad as a Hatter
Run for Your Money
Blue Ridge Mountain
Wanted Woman – AC/DC
Come on in My Kitchen
Review & Photography : Emma Painter
Pacific Curd Photography