Larkin Poe serve up some classic blues with a very modern twist

To many, the traditional image of the blues is one of weathered old men, sitting on their porch in a rickety rocking chair bemoaning their lot in life on waking up one morning after their woman finally left them.

By Mick Burgess
Monday, 08 April, 2019, 12:39
Rebecca Lovell of Larkin Poe at the Riverside in Newcastle. Pic: Mick Burgess.

Larkin Poe may well shatter that image. Fronted by the supremely talented Lovell sisters, Megan and Rebecca, their take on the blues draws from the very depths of the Mississippi delta and their own Deep South roots, but with a delightful modern twist that drags the blues well and truly into the 21st century.

Mixing their own original songs with some choice covers brought the delta blues to the banks of the Tyne.

Megan Lovell of Larkin Poe at the Riverside in Newcastle. Pic: Mick Burgess.

Leadbelly's Black Betty may be better known to many by Ram Jam's explosive 70s cover, but Larkin Poe pulled it apart and reassembled it to devastating effect, with Rebecca's forceful, yet beautifully melodic voice recreating the wizened old classic in their own image.

Preachin' Blues by Son House and the evergreen John The Revelator also showed the Lovells' ability to tackle old classics in such a fresh, invigorating way, while paying tribute to the soul of the originals. A rare gift indeed.

It's their own compositions, however, which mark Larkin Poe down as a genuine force.

Bleach Blond Bottle Blues featured some seriously dirty slide work on the lapsteel from Megan and some absolutely precision tight harmony vocals by the sisters, which was a delight to the ears.

Larkin Poe brought their very modern take on the blues to a packed-out Riverside in Newcastle. Pic: Mick Burgess.

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The groove of Freedom picked up the tempo, while the spiritual ballad, Might As Well Be Me lifted the soul.

Rebecca strapped on the banjo for California King, evoking visions of the southern states, while the slow, smouldering Hard Time Killing Floor Blues pretty much summed up the blues in one song.

Their charming, easy going stage presence really created an enjoyable atmosphere in the Riverside, which was so full that the back area had to be opened up.

It'll come as no surprise to see Larkin Poe playing much bigger halls when they return to the region in the future.

Megan Lovell of Larkin Poe, who brought their modern blues to the Riverside in Newcastle. Pic: Mick Burgess.

Mad As A Hatter addressed mental health, and a very open Rebecca spoke candidly about issues within her family and of the healing power of music, while Blue Ridge Mountains hit back with a foot-stomping hoedown before Come On In My Kitchen saw the sisters tackle Robert Johnson's vintage classic in fine style.

If Carlsberg ever made the Blues. It would sound like this.