mon 22/07/2024

Lankum, Barbican review - a stunning set | reviews, news & interviews

Lankum, Barbican review - a stunning set

Lankum, Barbican review - a stunning set

The Dublin band's live show is an immersive tour de force

Mark Allan /

“YOUR NEW ALBUM IS FUCKING DEADLY!” hollers a voice from the depths of a full house at the Barbican on Thursday night, the first date on the north Dublin band’s UK tour for their stunning new album, False Lankum.

Queue it up for your listening pleasure, and you’re going to be submerged in a sonic netherworld raised up by the four-piece’s panoply of organic drones seemingly captured in an echo chamber of epic proportions, with funereal drum taps, singer Radie Peat’s voice at its most haunted and disembodied, and more reminiscent of Heathen Earth-era Throbbing Gristle than anything heard before in folk music.

False Lankum is also the record of their career thus far, one that has drawn plaudits from across the musical spectrum – former Pogue Spider Stacey is a massive fan (“the best Irish folk band that’s been around for a long time”), and their performance at the Barbican was suitably thrilling, immersive and overwhelming, delivering epic tracks from False Lankum alongside selections from 2019’s similarly drone-tastic The Livelong Day and the earlier Old Cold Fire.

After an intriguing opening set of loops, live music and touches of dub from the Tara Clerkin Trio, Radie Peat opened an epic account of “The Wild Rover”, the band arrayed in a line across a dark stage platform, the brothers Lynch flanking either end, old schoolfriends Peat and Cormac MacDiarmada in the centre, and behind them, percussionist John Dermody bent over what looks like the largest drum ever seen on a kit.

Peat’s voice is a wonder, supported on “The Wild Rover” by a thin, frail fiddle and Daragh Lynch's exquisitely played guitar accompaniment, before the serpent in the music begins to rise up, and the soundscape thickens to a deep churning pitch that’s as dark as tar. And the audience breaks out in wild applause when Dermody first strikes that big drum.

Ian Lynch takes the lead on “The New York Trader”, a propulsive, insistent, inexorable tale of a murderer, supernatural forces, and a voyage of the damned, sealed at the end by excellent solo work between Ian Lynch and MacDiarmada on pipes and fiddle, with Peat working the concertina.

Throughout, they each demonstrate just how good they are as multi-instrumentalists – at one point, Peat augments her vocals and accordion work by using her toes to play a few notes on the harmonium at her feet, while Ian Lynch handles pipes, whistle, hurdy-gurdy, concertina and keyboards, as well as vocals, and MacDiarmada switches from fiddle and viola to guitar and lead vocals (with Peat) on the exquisite and haunting Child Ballad “Lord Abore and Mary Flynn”.

It's another epic set highlight, as is the wild instrumental assault of “The Pride of Petrovore” Here, Lankum’s music resembles a charred tatterdemalion march of unquiet souls through a soundscape scoured by the spectres of Goya’s Disasters of War, and while the gentler group harmonies on Cyril Tawney’s classic “On a Monday Morning” help to dial down the temperature of the musical tensions at play, the set closes with one of the greatest and most intense vocal performances ever to grace this concert hall – Radi Peat leading off unaccompanied on False Lankum’s tremendous opener, “Go Dig My Grave”.

How do you follow that? Well, how about a standing ovation from the loudest and wildest crowd I’ve been among at the Barbican, then a three-song encore that concludes with “Bear Creek”, a wild spree of a tune set that gets right under the skin of a good proportion of the audience, getting up on its feet, dancing wildly, flinging its arms about and generally going mental. I don't think there's been a Barbican audience like it. But then there’s not another band like Lankum.


Their performance at the Barbican was suitably thrilling, immersive and overwhelming


Editor Rating: 
Average: 5 (1 vote)

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