Robin Denselow reviews this year’s visit to the Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre last Sunday, complete with the predictable “altercations between would-be dancers and officials who clearly hadn’t expected such behaviour from a folk audience”. (The dancers won.)

Lakeman has brought folk to new audiences by taking strong narratives and treating them with relentless attack… The results were often spectacular, from the furious Take No Rogues to The Hurlers, a stomper about young men being turned to stone for playing sport rather than going to church. There was a drama and urgency that didn’t vary even when he slowed down for the declamatory Greed and Gold, or when he played solo, backed by his own foot-stomping violin on Kitty Jay.

Ultimately, however, he gives our hero a mere 3 out of 5, complaining that he lacked:

… variety – not in the instrumentation, but in the tone. He said Solomon Browne was “the most poignant song” on his new album, but this story of the 1981 Penlee lifeboat disaster was treated as yet another rhythmic romp, and the audience clapped along incongruously to this modern tragedy. Lakeman deserves his success, but a good storyteller needs to match excitement with soul and emotion.

Full review: ‘Folk Review: Seth Lakeman, Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre’ by Robin Denselow, The Guardian, Wed 27 Aug 2008 »