Larkin Poe, those blues-rockin’ sisters from Georgia, returned to Auckland to shake up The Powerstation with power, precision, passion and a special guest at the finale.
Larkin Poe are Megan and Rebecca Lovell. Big sister Megan is a virtuoso on lapsteel and dobro while Rebecca handles most of the lead vocals and guitar-slinging. Also on board tonight are bassist Tarka Layman and drummer Ben Satterlee.
The band made their Auckland debut four years ago at The Tuning Fork and we, at 13th Floor, have been anticipating their return ever since. As a matter of fact, a fan approached me just before the headliners took the stage to quote my review back to me…a rather strange encounter…but at least he got it right.
When we enter the hallowed Powerstation on this balmy Thursday evening, Mema Wilda was just taking off. The Auckland-based band proved to be more than up to the task of warming up the crowd, with Mema herself showing that she knows how to take command of a stage.
Her vocals were powerful and her moves dazzling. Along with a handful of originals, Mema treated us to her/their version of Leonard Cohen’s You Want It Darker and closed out the set with the appropriately named Going Wild. Let’s hope we see and hear more of Mema Wilda soon!
Four years after their last show in Auckland and Larkin Poe have only improved with age. Raised in Georgia and based in Nashville, the band has soaked up all the musical influences of the region…blues, gospel, country, rock & roll and even bluegrass.
“We played our share of banjos”, admits Rebecca.
But tonight she asks the musical question, “Are we in the mood for a little rock & roll?” And the answer is a resounding “yes”.
But the blues are always on the cards.
In fact, just a few songs into the set and they are paying tribute to blues great Son House, performing his Preachin’ Blues, and Megan plays a beautiful solo to get the song goling.
The crowd is also inspired. After, there is a bit of “sweet heckling” and then Rebecca expresses her surprise as to the correct pronunciation of Whangarei. She gives it her best shot, but never quite nails it. Try again next time!
Highlights of the set are many. The singing and playing is uniformly excellent with several tracks from 2020 album, Self Made Man making an appearance.
Later, Rebecca get serious as she discusses the issue of mental illness before they play Mad As A Hatter, inspired by their grandfather. This is where Larkin Poe truly transcend the blues and the crowd is duly in awe.
“Damn, y’all are respectful!” notes Rebecca.
My favourite came with Bad Spell, a fitting tribute to Screaming Jay Hawkins.
Of course there was an encore, but the surprise came when “Mr. Kingfish” (aka Christone “Kingfish” Ingram) was introduced. The big man was hard to see in the shadows of the stage but he certainly was heard as they all jammed on Robert Johnson’s Come On In My Kitchen.
What better way to shake off those winter blues!
Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Chris Zwaagdyk.
Larkin Poe Setlist:
- Strike Gold
- Kick The Blues
- Summertime Sunset
- Preachin’ Blues
- She’s A Self-Made Man
- Southern Comfort
- Holy Ghost
- Back Down South
- Bleach Blonde Bottle Blues
- Blue Ridge Mountains
- Mad As A Hatter
- Might As Well Be Me
- Bad Spell
- Wanted Woman
- Bolt Cutters and The Family Name
- Deep Stays Down
- Come On In My Kitchen