The whiff of the Liffey is in the air tonight as Dublin quartet Lankum – formerly Lynched – bring their raw spirit to town.
Two years ago, Lynched, as they were then, were hailed as the torchbearers of Irish folk (also nominated for Best Group and Best album in the 2016 BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards), a breath of fresh air and the real deal from the streets of the capital of auld Eire. They were then and they still are now.
Back then they entranced a seated audience in this fair city in the hallowed surrounds of St George’s, and tonight they give an equally or maybe even better performance at The Lantern where we stand and sway to their lovely music.
This lot know their roots and are passionate about it, albeit with a twinkle in their collective eye and a great self-deprecating warmth and sense of humour. The two brothers Ian and Daragh Lynch play off each other both musically and jokingly with a bitingly fine tongue-in-cheek rapport.
Ian Lynch lectures on traditional Irish music in Dublin and is a bit of a collector of the genre and in trad music generally, and the reverence and feel for the music shines through in Lankum’s sound.
From anti-war ballads such as Salonika to Traveller’s songs, music hall tunes, shanties and old-school uillean pipe, fiddle and concertina reels, the group are a blend of intricate and vividly effective four-part harmonies allied to a gutsy musicianship. Ian Lynch’s uillean pipes and fine Dublin brogue, brother Daragh’s guitar, Radie Peat’s pipes, harmonium and accordion and Cormac Mac Diarmada’s fiddle playing all combining to produce raggedly beautiful music.
At home with the profound and the profane they veer from haunting ballads like What Will We Do When We Have No Money and Granite Gaze, from their new album Between the Earth and Sky, where Radie Peat’s vocal soars over her concertina, to bawdy Dublin street songs like Daffodil Mulligan and Tommy Tucker.
When they down instruments and sing acapella the effect is as stunning, as on the anti-fascist anthem Peat Bog Soldiers and the staggeringly clever and raucously funny The Irish Jubilee.
Peat’s voice stills the venue again with its achingly reminiscent echoes of rural Ireland on The Old Man From over The Sea, the ballad morphing into a reel, and the foursome encore with the title track of their first album Cold Old Fire.
Having changed their name in protest at the ‘continued persecution and murder of black people in the USA’ Lankum have a deep political conviction ingrained to their material and carry on the story-telling tradition of Irish and other trad music with a rough-hewn edge that sparks excitement and admiration. Think The Dubliners and Planxty with the punkish spirit of youth.
Photo by Elfyn Griffith.