Live Review: Folks – Bodega (04/02/2013)

I meet Folks at BBC Radio Nottingham on the windiest of Monday in their pointy boots, well pomaded hair and sheepskin coats, seeing Folks as smartly dressed an outfit as you’re likely to find, as well as one of the most unassuming and grounded bands around.

I last spoke to the Northern boys towards the back end of last year following their release of debut album, I See Cathedrals, touring with Band Of Skulls, a tour which they see as “the best tour that we’ve ever done”. Since then Folks have gained a bigger following and a bigger reputation and with such things come even bigger expectations. A huge positive for the band is the media’s inability to slot them into any set musical genre, “genre-busting” as the Mancunian Maestros so say, and rightly so. Michael, or Fonda as he is more commonly known, the band’s Gretsch wielding freteniser added “we write pretty intelligent songs so to call us any other guitar band is, well, strange really.” He isn’t being egotistical here, their lyrical influences range from life-threatening anecdotes, to far-out sci-fi, through to peculiar literature. Their song writing style is high-brow without being galling; unconventional without being irrelevant and unapproachable.

The six-piece are out on their road on their first major headline tour this side of last Summer and Fonda reveals that this is their “most successful headline tour yet”. However, walking to the venue, I’m told that Nottingham is a bit of an unlucky city for Folks, where, unlike every other venue, they somehow haven’t sold out. As the lads take the small stage upstairs in the Bodega Social Club you can tell they are slightly underwhelmed with the sub 60 gathering. Undeterred, Anderson is vocally pitch-perfect and despite the poor turnout on a windy Monday evening, Folks prove why I See Cathedrals soars in a live environment.

From the wah-packed, head-shaking first single Skull and Bones to the album’s opener and brilliantly catchy latest release My Mother, some fine fretwork (Radiohead-esque 4+20 Blackbirds) and four piece psychedelic harmonies (Venom) not seen since the 60’s, their catchy refrains and dreamy vocals sees this band on top of their game. It is plainly obvious that their brilliantly received support slot with Band of Skulls has added real confidence to the band’s kaleidoscopic melodies. The highlight of an all too short set was Avalanche, a track which sees Folks at their punchy best, a quiet acoustic crescendos into hard hitting guitar solos with dreamy blended vocals. If you are listening to the track now, skip to 2:14. If you aren’t listening to the track, do it, OK?

So, what next for Folks? Working in tandem with American producer Luther Russell the band are to release a side-album to accompany I See Cathedrals, a psychedelic reworking of some of the album’s best tracks which lead singer Scott calls “refreshing and restrained as well as a little bit trippy”. A tour planned for May and writing underway for a follow up record, Folks are on the up and remain one of the tightest guitar outfits around.

Adam Keyworth

…Adam is listening to Luke Sital-Singh – ‘I Have Been A Fire’


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