By definition, the Jazz Cafe is accustomed to housing jazz bands yet tonight they host a sold-out show headlined by folk band Great Lake Swimmers. The buzz outside the venue is unequivocal as fans squeeze elbow-to-elbow, included is the odd opportunist seeking spare tickets. This etiquette would not lead to the batting of an eyelid outside bigger venues like the O2 or Wembley Arena, yet this venue's capacity, at 350, is barely a fingerprint in that of either venue.
The distinguished yet small setting is flooded to the brim with a boisterous crowd who refuse to suppress the noise even when support band Sleeping States start. The experimental two-piece unsuccessfully struggle to be heard over the bedlam of a currently blasé audience who remain occupied with gossiping and bundling the pocket-size bar. Their sound loses itself in an animated sea of noise which belatedly quietens down to a murmur as the bearded five-piece grace their stage with noteworthy instruments and country-boy plaid shirts.
The sea was eventually sedate as lead singer Tony Dekker eased into country-esque 'Let's Trade Skins'. The songs parades Dekker's charmingly distressed voice which is lavishly bathed in heartache and melancholia. A harmonica is attached steadily to his face, looking like a freakish amalgamation between a Tron suit and an exceptionally unfortunate brace, waiting to be played. The harmonica kicks in adding melody and a rootsy, vintage vibe to the piece. The ambiance sits tight throughout the unguarded, bedeviling batch of country songs including 'Various Stages', 'There Is A Light', 'Still and Put There By The Land'. All the songs sing sagas of heartsickness and home-life, a serene collision of love and nature and the allure embraced in both.
As 'Chorus in the Underground' kicks in the crowd enliven, stomping and clapping like the folk from a country barn dance. The rhythm gives a sly but definite nod to 'Cash's Walk the Line' and there is an abundance of new sounds with the addition of Erik Arneson's harmonium and Darcy Yates plucking perpetually on the upright bass.
Everyone is notably brought down to earth after a performance that could make anyone humbled, homesick and wanting to celebrate their roots.