Review: Lau at the Apex

How lucky we were to see the multi-award winning and innovative folk band Lau, ahead of their forthcoming appearance on Later with Jools Holland on Friday (11.50pm, BBC2).

These free-thinking cross-genre musicians were in fine fettle at the Apex, bringing their mix of Scottish influenced folk on fiddle, guitar, voice and box to a very appreciative audience.

Lau is Orcadian dialect for ‘natural light’, the isles where guitarist and singer Kris Drever hails from. A tune inspired by the Fair Isle, was explained that it lies between Orkney and Shetland – as the audience probably didn’t know where either of these archipelagos are. Virtuoso playing was inspired by the elemental force of waves crashing against the rocks and a beautiful air, reminding us of the beauty and the birds, for which this isle is famous.

Fiddler Aidan O’Rourke was introduced by Drever as coming from the ‘unnecessary West coast of Scotland’ – from the Isle of Seil, near Oban, to be more specific.

Accordionist Martin Green hails from Cambridgeshire. Drever explained that when Green took him there he was inspired to write a song as ‘flat lands always make him feel queasy’. Some of the people there even live below sea level, an impossible concept for an islander from Orkney. The result was a great song called Horizontal, where you can hear the landscape speak through breathtaking rhythms.

Green wires his accordion into his computer for electronic effects and O’Rourke employs the loop pedal, adding to the range and sparkle from this dazzling trio. Just watching them you see how in tune they are with each other. A major force in the folk genre – in its widest sense- - today.

Catherine Turnbull