Lau – Nottingham Playhouse, Friday October 9.
In February 2009, Lau won the “best group” category at the BBC Folk Awards for the second consecutive year, thus setting the seal on their fast-growing reputation as one of our finest live acts. At Friday night’s well-attended show at the Playhouse, we were duly treated to a two-hour display of superb musicianship from guitarist Kris Drever, accordionist Martin Green and fiddler Aidan O’Rourke.
Although Drever and O’Rourke hail from north of the border, Green grew up in the south of England. This geographic division gave rise to some wry banter, as the English accordionist remarked on the “topographic pretentiousness” of the Scottish Highlands, while chuckling at his bandmates’ unease with the flatness of the Fens. On the current album (Arc Light), there’s even a track about it: Horizontigo, which Green defined as “the fear of lack of heights”.
Selections from Arc Light comprised the bulk of the set. As with the band’s previous compositions, the pieces tend to be lengthy, episodic affairs, which can shift between exquisite tenderness and euphoric frenzy without ever sounding disjointed. O’Rourke’s beautifully expressive fiddle playing stood out during the quieter sections, while the louder passages saw Green rocking and lurching in his seat, his accordion almost becoming an extension of his body.
Blending considered precision with earthy passion, Lau represent British folk at its very best.