FolkLaw are known as an exhilarating, foot-tapping, energetic band. They’re infamous for entering the audience with their instruments (I heard fiddle crowd-surfing mentioned), and for their engaging onstage banter. They’re a five piece folk band from the Costworlds comprising of a drummer, a singer (who also plays the violin and harmonica, a bassist, and two guitarists (one of which is occasionally seen behind the sound desk instead). The vocalist, Nick Gibbs, is the founder of the group and the primary song-writer.
I saw the band play at the LoveFolk Festival in Southport, which was organised by Fatea magazine (a big folk magazine for those not in the know). FolkLaw instantly caught my attention and were charismatic and interesting to watch.
Their set started with quite a few sound difficulties, making it difficult for them to get the energy going. The Bryn Williams’ guitar couldn't be heard and was having multiple issues in the first song, however, while the sound man ran on and off the stage, they carried it with humour and aplomb and smoothly ran through the problems with the sound desk without letting it be a distraction. After a difficult start, they effortlessly picked up the energy with a fun reel with Nick (violinist) and Bryn (guitarist turned Bodron player) entering the front of the audience - in fact, Bryn made his way from the back of the audience to the front by walking over empty spaces and spare seats while playing the bodron - this brilliantly attracted the attention away from the soundman fiddling with wires on the stage and brought a lot of humour to the performance.
To further the technical difficulties, the mics weren’t very loud, but the band worked through this with ease, and played a lot of really fun and upbeat folk songs. I really liked that the vocals were shared with members of the band - there wasn't just one main singer. It gave their style a clear sense of variety. Bryn Williams was the strongest singer, it was just a shame he was preoccupied for the first few songs trying to sort the sound desk problems! They used some really nice harmonies in a few songs (especially in Dublin City) and a variety of percussion instruments.
Their transitions in between songs were well-practiced and felt very spontaneous. You could really feel a sense of friendly camaraderie on stage. Some of their songs transcended the folk genre a bit, with rocky vocals and melodies. The drummer came up to the front of the stage mid-set and played complicated rhythms on a drum while singing - quite a skill! Their slower songs were my favourite; full of feeling with great percussion accompaniments.
Overall, they were clearly very experienced, showing a high level of professionalism working through the technical issues while maintaining their energy on stage. But most importantly, they were fun to watch, and they had the audience listening to every word.
Check them out if you have the chance - http://www.folklaw.co.uk/Home.stm