After an eight-hour stop-start drive from the capital, Lisbee Stainton had barely half an hour to spare before facing the gigging folk of Ribchester.
The London-based singer-songwriter, only 26 yet with four albums to her name and also part of Seth Lakeman’s band, was the latest Hollow Horse attraction.
The idea is to bring acclaimed acts to Ribble Valley community venues, but major traffic chaos almost defeated promoter Carl Barrow.
Thankfully, special guest Glyn Shipman saved the day, adding songs to a planned half-hour set, keeping a small but friendly audience happy.
An Ian Broudie-like vocal, acoustic guitar and harmonica touches helped, and from displays of love on motorway bridges to songs about his Grandad, a veteran of the First World War, and his dad’s conjuring expertise, he provided perfect support.
Soon the main attraction arrived, nervous at first but ready to roll. Amid a panto woodland backdrop Lisbee sang songs from each album, wooing us from Joni Mitchell-like opener Is Whispering on.
Eloise was the first of several fine cuts from current album Word Games, Lisbee reminiscing about supporting Joan Armatrading in Europe and turning up even later for a show after further traffic woes.
She was big on audience participation, splitting us into three sections to join in on third album Go’s title track, then gave us a choice of ‘sexy’ or ‘dark’ next up.
As it was we got both, the sensuous Dance with Me bringing Judie Tzuke to mind, while The Poppy proved a powerful end to part one.
Our ‘English Rose with the eight-string guitar’ was soon among us, happily talking traffic nightmares before an assured second set.
Lisbee requested we stomp and clap along on Navigating, while an upbeat Just Like Me and more pensive The Author kept up the standard.
When introducing We Don’t Believe in Monsters, one female responded with a matter of fact ‘We do!’ – a further example of laidback heckling on this intimate night.
A sing-along followed on Red Dog Running, prompting Lisbee to ask us to join her tour, before she finished on a high with the laidback pop of Never Quite An Angel then most recent title track Word Games. Two delicious cuts from Go served as encore, a life-affirming Sidekick followed by Find Me Here.