Caught Live - Gentlemen of Few – Live at The Archer.
Gentlemen of Few are a Bluegrass Folk band from Dover, not Dover the capital of Delaware, America, but Dover, England, not something you hear every day.
Being a fan of bluegrass and folk in general, I have to confess that to my shame I have only heard of Gentlemen of Few, as finalists at the BBC Radio Two Young Folk Award 2014 and via word of mouth from fellow folk lovers I know. So at long last I get to put that right and see what all the fuss is about.
I watched as four very young (compared to me at least!) men took the stage, Jarrod Piner-Sewll on the synthesizer, Reece Forward on Bass/lead vocals, Elliott Norris on guitar/percussion and Luke ‘Kit’ Evans on the banjo. I must admit the old cynic in me raised an eyebrow, maybe I’m getting old but they looked a little young to be a bluegrass band.
I’m happy to report that with a closely packed audience they immediately exploded into their set with such force and skill I instantly became a fan. They reminded me of a gig I went to in a tiny little pub in the West Country (with a total of around twenty people in it) where I saw a band called Mumford & Sons when they were known merely as “two of them are from Laura Marling’s backing band”.
With a combination of originals, reworking’s and a couple of covers they filled the dance floor from the first song to the last, with those of us standing at the back stamping our feet to the highly energetic and beautifully crafted tales they performed for their crowd; bringing young and old alike under their spell.
One of the highlights of the first half for me was a reworking of Springsteen’s Glory Days. From a very American rock song into a very English folk tale, Gentlemen of Few treated it in their unique style. A few songs later came a cover of, in my opinion, Mumford & Sons greatest piece of storytelling, “Feel the Tide”. It was as good, if not better, than when I first heard Mumford preform it way back before they were even signed, never mind being the world conquering band of today.
The second half brought the same mixture of originals and reworking’s from the band, with their own work as well as songs by Old Crow Medicine Shows particularly standing out as beautifully preformed. Gentlemen of Few defy their youthful looks, they are both extremely skilled and talented musicians and great songwriters.
Which brings me to my only criticism of the evening (and it’s a very tiny criticism at that), while it’s good to hear some familiar song such as Mumford & Sons “Roll Away Your Stone”, I can’t help but wonder how much better that song would have been in Gentlemen’s uniquely English Bluegrass sound. They did such a brilliant job of making Springsteen’s song “Glory Days” their own so it would have been nice to hear their reworking of that song.
All in all Gentlemen of Few are a welcome and fresh face in Folk, creating a sound that is not only fun but meaningful and speaks of the myriad vagrancies of life. I have no problem in echoing what other people have said, Gentlemen of Few are going places. I highly advise you to see them now while you can before the rest of the world snatches them up.
Gentlemen of Few not only know how to entertain a crowd but they are highly skilled musicians; whether you are young or old, a Folk fan or not, they will blow you away and have you demanding an encore just as tonight’s audience were and did.
(First published on Dover Music Scene.)