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CONCERT REVIEW: Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman, Spalding Folk Club's 40th Anniversary, South Holland Centre, Spalding




Devon-based husband and wife musical couple Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman had the honour of launching Spalding Folk Club's 40th anniversary celebrations on Thursday.

Probably best known in folk music circles for their work with Kate Rusby and pop band Equation, where Sean's brothers, Seth and Sam Lakeman, joined him, Kathryn and Kate, the parents of twin daughters brought the charming mix of story telling and sensitive reflections on the ups and downs of life.

Kathryn and Sean are no strangers to South Holland audiences, having previously brought their engaging warmth, personality, humour and vast experience as singer-songwriters to Crowland Abbey at the end of January.

Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman in concert at South Holland Centre on Thursday, May 2, to mark Spalding Folk Club's 40th anniversary. Photo by Martin Browne.
Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman in concert at South Holland Centre on Thursday, May 2, to mark Spalding Folk Club's 40th anniversary. Photo by Martin Browne.

"It's an absolute delight to have been asked to help you celebrate Spalding Folk Club's 40th anniversary," Sean said before he and Kathryn unfurled a tantalising array of folk tales about Napoleon Bonaparte's exile to St Helena, the French port city of St Malo which has a place called the Dancing Cat Street (la Rue du Chat qui Danse), a singing whale and a disastrous mill fire.

There were moments where the audience felt sorry for Sean as he made way for Kathryn to present a number of solo numbers, including one of her earliest songs about her home town of Barnsley during the 1984-85 Miners' Strike, The Ballad of Andy Jacobs.

But the majority of the night allowed the couple to perform together, with songs called Tribute of Hands (about the Belgian city of Antwerp and its giant), Down Dog (pertinent to the current Brexit shambles), The Cows of Mystery, The Poison Club, Rusalka (the tale of a femme fatale Russian mermaid) and The Granite Mill.

Sean Lakeman and Kathryn Roberts were the guests of Spalding Folk Club for its 40th anniversary concert on May 2. Photo by Matt Austin.
Sean Lakeman and Kathryn Roberts were the guests of Spalding Folk Club for its 40th anniversary concert on May 2. Photo by Matt Austin.

For those in the audience who had the pleasure of seeing Kathryn and Sean in Crowland, an interesting exercise was to work out those songs that were different from the set played in January.

Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman in concert at South Holland Centre on Thursday, May 2, to mark Spalding Folk Club's 40th anniversary. Photo by Martin Browne.
Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman in concert at South Holland Centre on Thursday, May 2, to mark Spalding Folk Club's 40th anniversary. Photo by Martin Browne.

The answer to that question was an old Scottish ballad called The Night's Ghost, The St Malo-inspired The Street of the Cats Who Dance, The Wisdom of Standing Still and, possibly the highlight of the whole night, Season from the couple's 2018 EP Personae.

Before their final song of the concert, Jackie's Song by New Zealander Donn McGlashan, Kathryn said: "It's been so much better with you all here".

The same could be said for Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman in a landmark year for Spalding Folk Club.

Review by Winston Brown



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