Seth Lakeman kicked off A Pilgrim’s Tale UK Tour at Cast in Doncaster on Wednesday 5th February 2020. Lakeman entered the stage looking unassuming as he picked up his violin. The band started to play their instruments as Actor Paul McGann’s voice was heard introducing the story line to the first song of the show and the album A Pilgrim’s Tale. McGann’s voice with instrumental as well as projected visuals of the Mayflower’s adventure set the scene. The crowd were silent and rooted to their seats as Lakeman performed. The audience were hearing these songs for the first time and they didn’t want to miss any element of the show, I’ve never seen an audience so still and quiet. This added to the intensity and intimacy of the show. Lakeman looked like he was living every moment of the story as if he had been on the Mayflower voyage all those years a go.
Lakeman had chosen specific places in the UK that had significance to the Mayflower. Doncaster was chosen because one of the most important Separatist Mayflower Pilgrim’s, William Bradford, was born in Doncaster in 1590 and baptised in the parish church dedicated to St Helena (almost 1000 years old).
A Pilgrim’s Tale has the sound of folk music back at the roots, all sounding authentic and stripped back. Lakeman’s voice flows brilliantly with the music of the band, his lyrics stay with you as he tells the story of hope as the pilgrim’s go in search of a new life; how they then struggle on the voyage, lacking food and becoming poorly. Once they arrive their struggles don’t stop there as they clash with Wampanoag Tribes people and how harmony was reached. Lakeman had the skills to take people along with the music, making it easy to imagine the Mayflower and the events of 1620.
While celebrating the 400th Anniversary of the Mayflower, it stays sensitive to the historical story, religious liberation and the deaths on both sides of the Pilgrim’s and the Wampanoag.
The second part of the show was started by Lakeman addressing the audience, with massive thanks to everyone who had attended the first show of the tour. Lakeman said that he had been nervous about doing the new material and how it would go with the audience. He said he didn’t know if they would clap at the end of the songs. Lakeman added that they would do his older material to get people going, he said he didn’t want to lose people. The crowds response was different to the first half of the show as they were excited to hear songs they were familiar with. Lakeman mixed his repertoire of songs from tradition folk for the purists to rock-folk style, a style that Lakeman has developed over the years. Whether you’re a purist or modern folk fan, Lakeman has a song for you to appreciate.
Lakeman invited the audience to sing with him, they did so with enthusiasm as they were into the full swing of the show. Lakeman joked saying, I didn’t hear that in the first part of the show. The audience joked with Lakeman and he responded well ramping up the tempo for the remainder of the show.
Lakeman demonstrated his trademark foot stomping, fiddle bow-shredding to the highest level. You can see why he’s probably the coolest man in folk right now. The audience were toe tapping and head bobbing to the tempo of the songs and singing at the top of their lungs.
Lakeman returned to the stage for the final two songs that had such energy that I’m surprised his bow didn’t break or catch fire. The band jammed together before closing the show. Lakeman thanked the crowd for being guinea pigs for the first tour of A Pilgrim’s Tale. Lakeman went on to thank each member of the band and they all stood together, taking their final bow to end the show.
A Pilgrim’s Tale Tour is fast selling out, get to one of the shows before it’s too late.
Sat 8th Feb – Gainsborough, Trinity Arts Centre
Sun 9th Feb – Boston, Blackfriars Theatreand Arts Centre
Tues 11th Feb – Harwich, St Nicholas Church
Weds 12th Feb – London Southwark, Cathedral
Thurs 13th Feb – Southampton, Central Hall
Fri 14th Feb – Dartmouth, Flavel Arts Centre
Sat 15th Feb – Plymouth, St Andrews Church