The Barr Brothers


I thought I knew what The Barr Brothers were about. I’d discovered them in 2011 when they released their self titled debut album. It was folk music, delivered with a tool slightly sharper than most of the folk music around at the same time. That said, they also had the slowest of slow chuggers - songs that lasted over five minutes, and wouldn’t hit the first chorus until way over half-time. They’re completely different live, and it’s astonishing.

It was nearly two hours of rampaging improvisation, lengthy, and virtuosic solos, and ripping highs of almost euphoric proportion. There were, nestled within this, a few moments of needed respite in the form of ‘Beggar in the Morning’ and ‘Even the Darkness Has Arms’, which are my favourite of their recorded songs. These softer spells we’re in the minority as the band absolutely thumped out weightier versions of ‘Love Ain’t Enough’ and their latest single ‘Come in the Water’. I was continually taken back to the 60s and 70s, when bands weren’t so inhibited by the culture of ‘bite size’ that we’re amidst now, and they nailed it. My only worry is that if you’d gone to the show as a ‘neutral’ you’d find yourself underwhelmed by the comparatively subdued recorded versions of songs.

I’d expected to find myself becoming heavy on my feet - relaxed by lethargic strums, and plodded rhythms. Instead I found myself amongst a crowd taken through a set of real energy and an intelligent upping of what’s on their records. They’ve avoided the now-cliché route of modernising by adding synths and some electronic beats to their existing sound, and gone in the hugely satisfying direction of getting on stage jamming the shit out of it.

Listen to their latest single ‘Come in the Water’ below.