Live Reviews

Love Folk 2023 – The Atkinson, Southport: Live Review

Love Folk Festival – The Atkinson, Southport – 11th February 2023

Love Folk at the Atkinson, Southport is an annual celebration of folk and acoustic music, set in the heart of the Victorian seaside town. This indoor festival attracts visitors from all over the North West and beyond who appreciate their winter festivals to be warm, friendly and most definitely without mud. The festival comprises of two stages that showcase both established acts and emerging talent, a unique feature of this event is that the festival is opened by one of the artists who had been on the smaller stage the year before.

This year that privilege fell to Katie Spencer who has been praised for her unique song-craft, spell-binding musicianship and crystal sonic clarity, she delighted the Atkinson audience who gallantly didn’t flinch when she spoke of finding her perfect, ‘vintage’ (1956) guitar, Birmingham based band Bonfire Radicals who describe themselves as a raucous and danceable feast of dynamic, high-octane, prog-folk music, took to the studio stage and raised more than a few smiles with their rendition of Spaghetti Junction. Their current album The Space Between was reviewed by ATB in 2022.

Friday evening headliner Jim Moray, was making a very popular return to the Studio Stage after his first appearance in 2016, delighting the audience with an intimate set blending traditional and modern elements to create a unique and dynamic sound.

Saturday started at the Theatre Bar Stage with John Reed, before Katie Spencer performed her second set of the 2023 festival in the studio. Back to the bar for Serious Sam Barrett, before Calum Gilligan mesmerised his audience with one of the purest versions of Beeswing that you’re likely to hear.

Next up; Frankie Archer, who was the breakthrough act of this festival, appearing on the smaller Theatre Stage Bar ‘Busk Folk’ lineup, but making a big impression, Jim Moray popped back to watch her performance and has been quoted as saying that “Frankie blends traditional and modern elements to create a unique and dynamic sound” and we certainly would not disagree – definitely one watch for the future.

On the studio stage The Rheingans Sisters were an absolute treat, combining fiddles, voices, banjo, bansitar, tambourin à cordes and foot percussion to great effect, the noise they made was absolutely incredible and their tune Insomnia would definitely not provide any remedy to sufferers.

Good Habits followed in the Theatre Bar Stage with a highly inventive set, which included a joyful Those Were The Days/I Will Survive mashup, that no one knew they needed but now can’t get out of their heads.

Back in the Studio Stage, Jenny Colquitt blew the audience away with her astonishing range of vocals and lyrics. Her empathy, imagination and eloquence shine through in each of her songs, especially when she is writing about experiences and events that she is unlikely to have lived experience of. We also had a Love Folk Festival first, a song called The Lifeboat, being written about and dedicated to the Atkinson’s new Sound Engineer.

Following a brief intermission, which was unexpectedly but pleasantly filled by Corrie Shelley, we returned to the Studio and were given a treat for the eyes and ears in the form of West Mercia’s Greenman Rising who delivered their driving dance tunes and songs about love, war, murder and betrayal with their trademark, joyful chaotic energy.

Love Folk 2023 drew to close with the obligatory raffle and thanks were rightly given to the Atkinson in partnership with FATEA Magazine for putting on another thoroughly professional and enjoyable festival. Formalities concluded, The Gigspanner Big Band took to the stage and performed what can only be described as a masterclass of musicality by musicians of the highest calibre.

The Love Folk festival takes place each February over two days, The Atkinson boasts excellent facilities including a 400 seat capacity theatre, up to 422 person flexible layout Studio, bar, museum, galleries, exhibition space, cafe and adjoined Library.

The Atkinson online: website / facebook / instagram / twitter

FATEA Online: website

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