Live Review: The Paperboys, The Town Hall, Kirton in Lindsey – 17th May 2024

The Paperboys, Live at The Town Hall, Kirton in Lindsey, 17th May 2024
photo: Mark Dinnage

It has been well over 6 years since The Paperboys, from Vancouver, Canada last played Lincolnshire’s premier Americana music venue, The Town Hall, Kirton in Lindsey, but such was their performance that night and the impression they left, that promoter Brian Chudley considered them to be one of the best acts ever to tread the hallowed boards of this venue throughout its 12 year tenure. His view was clearly shared by the local congregation who turned out in their throngs to witness the return of one of North America’s finest which meant the show was a sell out well in advance of the night, and those turning up on the evening on spec were sadly disappointed.

Formed over thirty years ago, and with nine studio albums and two live albums under their belt, this Juno Award winning outfit boasts only founding member Tom Landa, vocals and guitar, from the original line up, though all bar one of the sextet on stage this evening have been onboard for around 15 years. Renowned for their eclectic blend of rock and roots music that mixes Celtic with bluegrass and Mexican to create a unique style that has wowed audiences around the world, their undoubted success in the studio is arguably superseded by their performance on stage, where The Paperboys are clearly most at home making them one of the “must see” acts on the circuit today.

The Paperboys live at the Town Hall, Kirton in Lindsey, 17th May 2024
photo: Mark Dinnage

Opening the first half of the evening’s performance with two tracks that appear on their most recent, ‘Best Of’ release, ‘Score’ (2016), the band immediately laid down a statement of intent, the energy and intensity bursting off the stage with Geoffrey Kelly on flute and Nick LaRiviere on trombone both taking breathtaking solo’s on ‘Rain On Me’ before Kalissa Landa displayed equal dexterity on the fiddle during the following number ‘Easy chair’.  A rousing rendition of Paul Simon’s ‘That Was Your Mother’ was followed by a few moments to sort out some un-wanted feedback from Landa’s guitar, giving Kelly the opportunity to share one of his infamous limericks that never fails to have the audience rolling in the aisles. Problem fixed, the band delivered the first of their instrumental numbers ‘Swallow’s Tail Jig’, that originally appeared on their award winning album ‘Molinos’, (1997), a perfect example of the band’s remarkable ability to fuse different musical styles, producing a sound that isn’t just unique but more importantly feels like it belongs. By this point the audience had long bought into the night’s proceedings, totally wrapped up by the infectious kaleidoscopic sound that burst from every side of the stage while Lande stood front and centre, his vocals reminiscent of Van Morrison during his early seventies period when he lead his own band of eclectic musicians with their brand of Caledonia Soul. The following two numbers exemplified Lande’s vocals with ‘California’ and ‘Waiting’, both encouraging audience participation to which they responded with aplomb, before the first half was brought to a close with another Paul Simon song, ‘I Know What I Know’, again taken from the album ‘Graceland’. In truth these two cover versions fitted perfectly with the band’s global musical palette, songs from Canada, to Mexico, Scotland to South Africa all distilled into one distinct genre entwining experience allowing the audience to travel the musical world without getting out of their chair.

The Paperboys live at the Town Hall, Kirton in Lindsey, 17th May 2024
photo: Mark Dinnage

After a short interval the second set commenced with the instrumental ‘El Baile Del Puma’, a Latin flavoured number that saw percussionist Sam Esecson step from behind his drum kit to the front of the stage to display his skills on the ‘Cajon’, a box-shaped percussive instrument originally from Peru, while Lande swapped his regular guitar for a ‘Jarana Jarocha’, an eight-stringed guitar whose roots originate from the Mexican southern state of Veracruz. Together they produced a rhythmic pulse over which Kelly and Kalissa Landa created a sumptuous melody with flute and fiddle that transported the audience to the vibrant streets of Mexico City. From here the band delivered their own brand of soul music with a cover of the Sam Cooke classic ‘Bring It On Home’, before returning to a couple of self-penned tracks, firstly with ‘City Of Chains’, followed by a true crowd favourite in ‘Windshield Cracks’ with its lyrical narrative of tough times on the road.

There has been no new material released from the band since ‘At Peace With One’s Ghost’, over ten years ago, but tonight the congregation were treated to a new song entitled ‘Sparkle and Shine’ which had all the hallmarks of another Paperboys classic, complete with more stunning solos from Kelly and LaRiviere, before the penultimate track of the second set ‘Better Than The Last’, described as a ‘Celtalatino’ song which, in truth, would have been a fitting description for much of the evening’s repertoire. The second set closed with an extraordinary version of Bob Dylan’s ‘All Along The Watchtower’, a song they recorded as part of a tribute album to commemorate Dylan’s 60th birthday back in 2001. The song was of course covered and re-invented by Jimi Hendrix whose rendition is seen by many as the definitive version, however after tonight I would beg to differ as firstly Kelly on flute and then LaRiviere on trombone played the most outrageous solos. Then, just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, bassist Bennet Pullen, who for the bulk of the show had stood at the back of the stage helping to create the musical foundation for those in front of him took his turn in the spotlight delivering a mind-blowing solo from his five-string bass guitar, driving the packed house to the edge of delirium.

The demand for an encore was as deafening as it was deserved, and after a few minutes Tom and Kalissa Landa along with Mullen returned to the stage for a beautiful rendition of Steve Earle’s classic ‘Even When I’m Blue’, which once again emphasised the range and diversity of The Paperboys’ musical palette, before the remaining members rejoined them on stage for one last rousing number that had the audience on their feet. The Town Hall here in Kirton in Lindsey has over the years been privy to some amazing nights, but very few have been the equal of what was delivered on the third Friday in May 2024. Simply stunning.

About Graeme Tait 123 Articles
Hi. I'm Graeme, a child of the sixties, eldest of three, born into a Forces family. Keen guitar player since my teens, (amateur level only), I have a wide, eclectic taste in music and an album collection that exceeds 5.000. Currently reside in the beautiful city of Lincoln.
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Alan Peatfield

You nailed it Graeme. I’ve seen some superb acts at Kirton and this is right up there. Outrageously talented. I emailed friends who live just outside Newcastle and implored them to go see them at the Cluny on the Sunday. Fortunately they knew what impeccable musical taste I have and went. Outcome? 2 additions to the Paperboys legion of devoted fans!! …… and yet ….. they said there were only approx 16 – 18 punters there. Shameful!!