Chapel Arts in Bath is a former church in the city centre and has become one of the leading venues in the area for the type of shows that AUK featured in our Small venue Heroes series. With a new album just out and eight dates into their tour The Lost Trades have had time to bed in their new songs and produce a set list that features the best of them old and new. The venue has a warm intimate feel with the audience at tables, which reduces the capacity but produces an atmosphere that visiting bands seem to love.
The first set focused on the new album ‘Petrichor‘. ‘Old Man Of The Sea’, with Phil Cooper’s bass taking the lead and more prominent than on record which changes the dynamic of the song. ‘Little Blackbird’ highlights the shift in tone with their new music, which has moved more towards the Laurel Canyon sound, and this song especially was reminiscent of the band America as well as the country. Tamsin Quin joked that her newly acquired top made her feel like Stevie Nicks as one of the features of a Lost Trades gig, the constant swapping of instruments, went on. While with many bands this may end up as a distraction here it gives the chance to relate some of the stories behind the songs.
This was very much a home town gig for the band, and they were clearly enjoying the supportive audience. ‘Under The Hornbeam’ which they describe as a “Chirpy song about the end of the world”, and ‘Long Since Gone’ about a friend who passed with cancer, illustrate the thoughtful nature of the songs. While they claim that the newer songs have gone further in this direction, their best song, and a request for tonight, is ‘Hope Cove’ written for a friend’s late father.
Starting the second set with the acapella ‘Valhalla’ from the recent album and then one of the fan favourites, ‘One Voice’, the harmonies that they produce on record are replicated on stage faultlessly once again. With three very different songwriters it would be easy for the music to become disjointed, but they produce a coherent band sound where it’s hard to tell who took the lead in writing each song, unless they tell us.
As with all bands their songs evolve in performance. ‘Keep My Feet Dry’ has developed a stronger middle section with a Stephen Stills style electric guitar price from Cooper. They even asked for all the CDs back as they have decided the song works better on electric guitar now. But that’s part of the delight of live music of live music of course, watching the songs develop.
The last couple of songs moved towards the lighter celebratory side of their music. ‘Wait For My Boat’ is one of those that has become stronger in performance, and they came back for an encore of their single from last year ‘Daffodils’. A song about friendship that says so much about the onstage feel. They really do appear to be friends, and Jamie Hawkins has captured the essence of that in this song for which the only term is “feel good”.
If Wiltshire had a West Coast The Lost Trades would be sat firmly on the beach with guitar and drum making much the same sunny music that they offered in Bath tonight. They use the lighter songs to counterpoint the darker messages. Their often deceptively simple words cover some big subjects while never allowing a mood of hope and optimism to drop. In a venue that often brings the best out of artists The Lost Trades delivered and as their music continues to shift towards California their audience will open up from the folk club crowd towards wider recognition.