by James Stafford Any mention of ‘folk and traditional music’ that’s casually tossed out in conversation invariably results in a few raised eyebrows. The beardy ale stereotype is a tough one to shake off, but that doesn’t stop a substantial number of twenty-somethings on the circuit from doing their level best to alert a wider audience to the power of traditional music. As the man at the head of folk’s assault on the mainstream Lakeman clearly has cause for celebration tonight. The nigh-on 1000 capacity Academy is packed to the rafters with what for a folk gig is a respectable mix of old and young, with a relaxed and confident performance from Seth, his brother Sean, bassist Ben Nicols and percussionists Andy Tween and Cormac Byrne receiving a rapturous reception. There were those of us who, following a difficult summer of embarrassing tight T-shirt music videos and shouty vocal performances from the group, had begun to fear that Lakeman’s contract with Relentless was turning him into the aspiring pop-rock star nobody really wants him to be. Standard opener ‘Rifleman of War’ does much to dispel these doubts, a gleeful military stomp rendered still more danceable by the group’s dual percussive assault. Last year’s Freedom Fields album is heavily represented here, and as such Cormac Byrne’s presence in the band is all the more welcome. His frenetic bodhran playing really shines on two numbers he plays as a duo with Seth, last year’s single ‘Lady of the Sea’ and fan favourite ‘The Bold Knight,’ from 2004’s Mercury nominated Kitty Jay. The band in full-on stomp mode is arguably just as impressive. Live stalwart ‘How Much,’ a trip-hop wimp-out on Seth’s overlooked 2002 debut The Punch Bowl, is here pumped full of mashed guitar chords and thumping double bass, leaving it easily the evening’s most joyous moment. Meanwhile, sensitive treatments of recent singles ‘The White Hare’ and ‘King and Country’ show the group as a whole to be capable of more than tenor guitar riffery, the latter in particular gaining an emotional resonance lacking from either of its recorded incarnations. More’s the pity, then, that the title track showcased from upcoming EP Poor Man’s Heaven displays none of its predecessors’ subtlety, succumbing all too easily to a welter of cringe-inducing ‘Yeah!’s and ‘Come on now!’s. Hopefully, the Spinal Tap influence will not be discernable for long, and as soon as the singer banishes his bandmates and launches into an incendiary solo rendition of his greatest songwriting achievement, the terrifying ‘Kitty Jay,’ all is swiftly forgiven. The versatility and power of this group leaves them a force to be reckoned with, in the folk world and beyond.
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Former World Cup qualifiers Angola and Togo were given difficult first hurdles to clear when the African preliminary draw for the 2022 tournament was made in Cairo yesterday.The Palanca Negras of Angola were paired with The Gambia while Togo will face the Comoros between 2nd and 10th September in two of 14 two-leg ties involving the lower ranked countries.Since qualifying for the 2006 World Cup in Germany at the expense of hot favourites Nigeria, Angola have made little impact in qualifying competitions for the global showpiece. A Gambian team coached by Belgian Tom Saintfiet impressed in mid-year friendlies, winning away to 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers Guinea and Morocco.Togo, who also made their only appearance at the World Cup in 2006, thanks in a big way to the goals of Emmanuel Adebayor, have not come close to repeating that feat.African football heavyweights Ghana, Cameroon and Morocco all failed to win in the southern Africa island state of the Comoros in recent years.The preliminary draw included six of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers and two, Burundi and Tanzania, were paired.Aggregate winners join the 26 countries given byes, based on the July world rankings, in the six-round group phase from next March.The 10 section winners advance to playoffs, which will decide the five qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal and Tunisia represented Africa at the 2018 World Cup in Russia and none of them made it past the first round.DRAWEthiopia v LesothoSomalia v ZimbabweEritrea v NamibiaBurundi v TanzaniaDjibouti v eSwatini (formerly Swaziland)Botswana v MalawiGambia v AngolaLiberia v Sierra LeoneMauritius v MozambiqueSao Tome v Guinea-BissauS’Sudan v E’ GuineaComoros v TogoChad v SudanSeychelles v RwandaFIRST, SECOND LEGS: Sept 2-10Byes: Senegal, Tunisia, Nigeria, Algeria, Morocco, Egypt, Ghana, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ivory Coast, Mali, Burkina Faso, South Africa, Guinea, Cape Verde, Uganda, Zambia, Benin, Gabon, Congo Brazzaville, Madagascar, Niger, Libya, Mauritania, Kenya, Central African RepublicShare this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegram