What happens when you get one of the UKs most in-demand concertina players, one of the UKs most popular tune writers and ceilidh players, and the lead fiddle player from the UKs most beloved folk big bands onstage together in a trio for an evening of folk tune chamber music? The answer to that, of course, is Leveret. The setting for their show at Sheffield City Hall was as nice and intimate as ever; emphasised by an unpretentious opening of a cheerful Sam Sweeney tune set followed by “New Anything”, the eponymous signature set from Leveret’s debut release. This tour has seen the trio play some of their biggest venues yet, to audiences that have been more than receptive, even as Andy Cutting joked about the lack of singing that would happen in the performance.
For the first part of the show, the violin seemed unusually low in the sound mix, meaning it was difficult to hear over the melodeon; this was resolved later, however. The band played a varied mixture of traditional tunes and self-penned ones, with popular session songs that will sound familiar to most regular pub players, as well as some more unusual darker ones like the gorgeous “Italian Rant”. The versatility of the players was shown by these moments where the style of playing and mood of the room was shifted by the music completely, as well as some deft mid-tune instrument changes from Andy Cutting on the diatonic melodeon.
Despite impressive musicianship from Harbron, Cutting, and Sweeney though, the first half was marred by a seeming unwillingness to interact very much with the audience, especially after the very talkative stage personas I have seen from the trio previously. The time between playing was spent mostly just introducing the next tune, without many jokes or speeches – this changed during the second half though, as the band seemed more comfortable with the crowd after roaming the audience in the interval. For a band in the process of releasing a brand new album, there was not a great deal of advertising going on for it, which was a pleasant deviation from how a lot of artists take their plugging into overdrive.
Most importantly, the thing to note about a Leveret gig is just how unpretentious they are; without a whisper of self-indulgence to be heard. This was even commented on, with the humorous quip of whether they should assume an extended encore or just have a “question and answer” time. The show proved yet again, that whilst a Leveret concert can sometimes feel like watching other people have a session, the trio continue to captivate and change the face of traditional music in the UK. If you cannot catch them over the next few weeks, their joint-headline tour with Spiro early next year will definitely be one not to miss; as will Sam Sweeney’s one-off English fiddle show in Sheffield on January 27th.