Joe Banfi brings growl and grace in equal measure to London’s Sebright Arms

Offering more than the regular acoustic singer-songwriter would, Joe Banfi has found comfort in a relative niche, adding depth to his brand of dark folk by carefully drawing on rock and grunge.

The Northwich-based singer has marked the release of his second EP, Nomads with a 5-date UK tour, a sold out Sebright Arms providing the setting for his penultimate show. His influences were made clear from the outset; after calmly ignoring a guitar-malfunctioning false-start, he opened with the ingenious take on Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged ‘Where Did You Sleep Last Night?’. The cover presented the sweltering basement with Banfi’s most effective tools – graceful, reverb heavy “ooh’s” in cold falsetto, above neat guitar picking, cell  and an intense, crunching growl.

There is a story-telling style to his song-writing, which shone through in the brilliantly recollective ‘Olive Green’; it’s childhood imagery and nostalgia translating even better in the live environment. Gentle girl-boy harmonies in the sets quieter moments conjured up thoughts of Angus and Julia Stone, but tracks like ‘Iron’ and ‘Guts and Bones’ allowed the full band to come into play. Drums, that often stuck to subtle clicks and splashes, were unleashed with controlled fills and snare hits, as heavy as the former tracks name suggests.

Banfi had control of the room, from the almost head-banging enjoyment of these heavier instances, to hushed silences in moments melancholy, the best example being his completely delicate encore ‘See You At Home’. He unveiled a couple of new and equally accomplished tracks, which showcased further versatility. Unafraid to embrace and merge genres, we can expect more dark and intense folk to come from this talented raconteur.

Set List
Where Did You Sleep Last Night?
Family
Olive Green
True
The Lamb
Iron
Intrude
Nomads
Guts and Bones
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See You At Home