The Lake Poets
LIVE AT THE SAGE (Gateshead)
An Emotional and Poetic Journey From The North East’s Finest Wordsmith.
Do you know the conundrum about having a favourite artist or band that no one knows about but you crave for them to become huge megastars; although that means you would no longer get to say “hello” when they play a tiny venue walking distance from your house?
Martin Longstaff aka The Lake Poets is my conundrum. He has a fan and friend in ex-Eurythmic and all round megastar Dave Stewart; but we first fell in love with his songwriting and pearlescent voice a good few years ago when his song 1996 was part of a locally released Christmas album showcasing local acts.
Hey ho; the past is another country and there is this delightful EP to drool over.
Recorded in December 2016 in a sold out Hall #1 at Sage Gateshead with the String section of the Sage’s Youth Music Programme as accompaniment, friends told me Marty held the audience transfixed for well over an hour; but we only get six of the songs here; which is a shame, but an aural pleasure none the less.
Longstaff’s love songs aren’t ‘moon in June’ nonsense as opening song Your Face exemplifies, he is very much a songwriter with a Poet’s soul; using words and expressions in a way that will gently squeeze your heart until you forget to breathe. Then as the song fades to a close you will gently let out a sigh and wipe a tea from the corner of your eye.
There has always been gentle echoes of Nick Drake and John Martyn at times in some of The Lake Poets songs; and To The Lighthouse is just such a perfect example in the way he brings such a delicate story to life and leaves the listener emotionally shattered.
One of Martin’s strengths as a songwriter is the way he can inhabit the character in a song about some very dark subjects unlike anyone else I can think of. Black and Blue is a tale of domestic violence seen through the eyes of a child, and the production, engineering and mixing are exemplary for a live recording as you can not only hear a pin drop but Longstaff occasionally taking a breath between lines.
There are never many laughs in The Lake Poets songs; but sometimes we all need to hear a song that will make us feel better about ourselves; such is the case with the luscious See You Tonight, as the strings swoop and soar over Marty’s intricate guitar playing while the words of a very clever song seep into the subconscious like the very oxygen we breathe every day.
Then, there is the final track and our ‘favourite song’ on this all too short recording; Vane Tempest. A staple of Lake Poets concerts for a few years now this love song to the singer’s Father who was a coal miner at the pit of the same name; and how the infamous Miners Strike of 1984-85 affected him; but allowed the sons of the miners to fly free from the shackles their fathers were bound by for generations.
Phew; this short EP is a roller-coaster of emotions, and a beautiful journey it is too. For a download the sound quality is outstanding and very much befitting The Lake Poets words and sounds in a way they deserve to be heard.
Released December 29th 2017