Excitement buzzed in the air at the Northern Lights Folk Club. On the bill were two NLFC regulars—Jez Lowe with opener Chloe Albert. Albert began her set with a request from the sound man (always a good person to keep happy) “Tightrope” off her 2008 album Dedicated State. She demonstrated the depth of her writing with songs built off civil war tales to a new love song co-written with Rob Heath. At the end of her set Albert was called back up to the stage and sang an unplugged encore “Million Reasons” off her most recent Dream Catcher that stunned the audience with its sincerity amplified by the vulnerability of an entirely acoustic performance.
A seasoned performer Jez Lowe immediately had the audience involved, adding their voices to “Tether’s End” and “Taking on Men“. In between songs Lowe regaled us with tales from road like an almost misadventure on a water taxi called the Bergen, which fittingly introduced the “The Bergen” [a more complete version of the song’s background can be found here].
Even if you didn’t know much about Lowe prior to the show (a minority to be sure), after the show you’d be able to pronounce at least a few words with a Geordie accent and relate humorous takes on at least three serious subject: Charles Darwin [“We’ll Hunt Him Down”], the 1936 Olympics [“Jesse Owens’ Shoes”] and the Battle of the Somme [“Wrong Bus”]. The coal mines of Lowe’s native Durham are never far from his music and made a number of appearances throughout the evening including “Black Diamond”, “Pitman Poets” and “Working Dirty”. The poignancy of “Old Bones” brought the audience to their feet for a standing ovation and brought Lowe back on stage to introduce us to another of his projects Folk against Fascism with the tune “Hands Feet”.
The evening was nothing short of an event of Community, and the Northern Lights Folk Club community will be meeting again on November 5th with Peter Katz and opener The Fates.