Live Reviews

Mike Turnbull And The Safe Kings – Arnside Sailing Club: Live Review

A far cry from the Academies and the Apollos; The Arnside Sailing Club does its bit for the live music scene, hosting Mike Turnbull And The Safe Kings.

As a  small group of Cumbrian youth enjoyed a gentle ‘rave’  at a secluded spot on the Arnside coast a slightly older group of ravers had a pleasurable, intimate musical evening at the cosy  Arnside Sailing Club with Cumbrian modern folk group Mike Turnbull and The Safe Kings.  Songwriter Mike is inspired to write his upbeat  beautifully constructed  songs on Cumbrian folklore  telling of sea faring  tales and tragedy, medieval legend and  links to various spots in the locality of more recent times and personal experiences . 

Although regulars on the  region’s folk venue circuit,  the trio deserved a  larger audience and in my opinion wider exposure nationally. Spots on larger folk festivals like Shrewsbury or Cambridge would be well deserved. 

Those fortunate and appreciative few who visited the friendly venue,  nestled between Ye Olde Fighting Cocks Pub and the tasteful array of craft shops and cafes, were treated to two sets  of  accomplished tenor guitar and banjo playing from Mike accompanied most ably by the Safe Kings,  driven along by  percussionist Dave Pennington on Cajon  and the gentle bass fills of Suzanne Ambrose  on  double bass.

Mike introduces each song with interesting anecdotes and information about his songs and indeed their latest album, Kingdom Come (reviewed here), is accompanied by a commentary of each track.

Mike Turnbull & The Safe Kings.
Picture: Howard King

The setlist was predominantly taken from this album and their previous shorter album, Courageous Tree; both of which were available on the night with the added enhancement of free beermat!

On this thoroughly entertaining evening we learnt  that although we are in the shadows of the mighty fells  sea faring tales are close to Cumbrian hearts, notably the tragic tale of  lost souls in Harvest Lost, a tale which was nearly abandoned but rejuvenated when families related to the tale gave their  support. Links to medieval and Viking yore were discovered and the mysterious fate  of a relative of  Arthur Pendragon, Uther, was amongst them. 

Family  ancestral links to the dreaded reivers in Reivers Steel  and childhood recollections of summer days gave the evening a personal touch. Kendal connections to Mallory and Irving’s fatal Everest attempt were revealed and through his songs we visited Heart shape Wood and, in the intriguing story of mischievous exploits in  Boat Thief Song, Windermere.

Arnside is known also for its’ bore’, which daily brings in the fast flowing tides; it’s a must see if you can catch it. However there wasn’t a boring moment in the evening. If Mike and his Safe Kings are in your locality soon they are well worth seeing too.

Cumbria has always been an inspiration to artists and poets but Mike’s uplifting music, which is full of  vocal colour, creates  an extremely entertaining  evening.

I would like to take an opportunity to congratulate the Arnside Sailing Club. Their efforts to rejuvenate live music in its charming venue are brilliant. This small place with a big welcome has a few events lined up giving local rock, folk and jazz acts  an opportunity to play live and attract locals to spend an evening to jam along in the future. You can check out the upcoming shows, here.

You can read Mike Turnbull’s guest pieces that he has written for At The Barrier here.

Mike Turnbull online: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Bandcamp

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