LIVE REVIEW: The Lowest Pair @ Live Theatre (11.5.17) | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Newcastle’s Skylark Song have been fairly quiet since their 2nd album in 2015 so it’s good to see them back on stage tonight. Emma McRae’s voice remains both haunting and as fresh as ever on tracks like the deeply personal South American Skies and Relent from their debut LP and husband Alex’s guitar is intricate and faultless. A lack of newer material is compensated for by an outstanding version of Norwegian Wood in a seamless performance.

Hailing from Minnesota and Arkansas, The Lowest Pair have released five records but this is their first – albeit extensive – tour of the UK. Combining highly skilled guitar and banjo playing with heavenly melodies and emotive lyrics, the duo are, at first, a curious sight.

Almost playing to each other rather than the crowd, the chemistry between the two is infectious, giving the intimate audience the feel of being present at a private practice as much as being at a gig.  Banjo player Kendl Winter is witty and engaging, informing the audience that after performing the song $2 they had fans throwing $2 at them and are now working on a new song, called $10. Her childlike voice is the perfect foil for guitarist Palmer T Lee’s Midwestern heart-on-sleeve croon, never more so than on the mournful Minnesota Mend Me, done tonight by request.

Taking lead on Rosie, Winter’s banjo playing is mesmerizing, her fingers like spiders legs, taking on a life of their own. At times the musicianship on display is breath-taking, but most importantly, it never detracts from songs – like the confessional Stranger – that come straight from the heart and soul of Americana and deserve a much bigger audience. One of the surprise best gigs of the year so far.

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