By Neil D Campbell
I am fortunate today, luck has never been my favourite lady, but with my four leafed clover comes a chance encounter with Adam Sykes and his band Lanterns on the Lake.
I should make it clear here that Adam is not claiming ownership of the Newcastle-Upon-Tyne sextet, indeed if anything it would probably be the opposite.
As I have alluded, I am a boy with a golden ticket, and like young Master Bucket I’m just happy to be here. I came seeking the impossibly French Mr Yann Tierson, the man behind the Amelie soundtrack amongst other feathers, but I’ll leave with Lanterns on the Lake.
My new found providence stems from my unusual punctuality, in short I have arrived early. A swift beer by the gates of Brighton’s Concorde 2 and I have the chance to stumble upon the cool kids’ latest discovery.
They’d probably hate me if they knew that I had made it to this early meeting simply by fluke and I’ll happily admit that by the time this lot have given up on the Lanterns, because they’ve gone mainstream, I’ll still be dancing in the front lines of the prime time Pyramid Saturday night stage.
My canny streak knows no bounds as I happen across the moustachioed singer Adam Sykes lingering by the vast hand-made merchandising boutique.
The merchandising, you understand, not the booth; they haven’t carved a booth out of driftwood although I wouldn’t rule one out for the eventual Glastonbury headline performance.
I ask for a few minutes and am rewarded with a smile and no nonsense northern attitude, “Aye,” he says, “but I’ll have to mind the stall”.
I’ll spare you the phonetics, but I can assure you, he’s as Geordie as they come. As pretty young things buzz around the kiosk, I ask Adam about the beautiful hand-packaged EPs that the young ladies are fawning over.
“We have our own seal” he says, handing me one. I thumb the little parchment envelope with as much care as the band must have done when it sealed each one individually with its own wax brand.
“We had two thousand to do” he tells me, and I realise with horror that the look he has begun to sport is not one of pity, but instead reeks of pride.
I know here and now that this is a band un-jaded by the business of music. It is true they have shunned the traditional method of Saturday Night TV contest, but I smile as I recognize they have at least made it to the live shows. Well at least it looks as though they were spared a week in Benidorm with Sinitta.
Every thing about the band looks, sounds and feels home-made, including Adam’s Aran jumper. I compliment him on it as I reluctantly hand back the EP. “Sarah’s Gran knitted us one each” he says with some pride and a shy smile, and the spell deepens.
I tell him the band don’t seem to like their instruments and joke that they sounded as if they were trying to make them all sound like something else.
“It’s the sea” he tells me, “the album was all about the sea. Hazel and Paul actually moved to a cottage on the coast to be near it. You can hear the wind and the creaking of the floorboards in places on the record.”
Suddenly it all makes sense, the fluid quality of the music and the gentle attack of the instruments.
Lanterns on the Lake is not a band at all, it is a wax cylinder left too near the shore, it’s songs gradually appearing more by erosion and the passing of time than by actual song writing, not that I’m dissing their skill in that department.
Songs like You’re Almost There and Keep On Trying are brave and bold and tender, while Lungs Quicken screams Icelandic chic.
I was never a “found it first guy” and If I have a place on the trend highway it’s most likely the hard shoulder. For all the Q reviews and tips for the top, it looks like Lanterns on the Lake, with their fashionably unfashionable fisherman folk and woollen jumpers, are well suited to this lane too.
How long we can keep it a secret I don’t know, but my luck has to run out soon.