Far from the obvious choice from among the young Brit folk crowd, Johnny Flynn hasn’t done anything as vulgar as sell lots of records, but he has acted at Shakespeare’s Globe and the Royal Court with Mark Rylance and written songs inspired by Shakespeare, Eliot and Einstein.
So he’s a cultured guy with none of his friends Mumford & Sons’ bombast but none of Laura Marling’s tortured intensity either. His voice, amplified beyond the point of subtlety here, is a warm, rustic thing that makes him sound as if he was born in a barn.
With three albums from which to draw, he shifted from the stamp and twang of The Wrote and the Writ to ragged rock on Country Mile and touching balladry on After Eliot, which added a soft flute to the canvas. An interesting band included cello, violin, Flynn himself on guitar, mandolin and trumpet, and the support act Cosmo Sheldrake on keyboards and clicky-clacky noises.
Einstein’s Idea, a lullaby written for his young son, was a sight better than Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, even though Flynn said his son isn’t bothered. Elsewhere he was louder than his albums suggested he would be, often on electric guitar, with weighty drums dominating.
Tickle Me Pink, with its lively bassline and quick-fire chorus, stood out but he still lacks the big song to unite the crowd and lift him from underdog status among his peers. This folky fug grew dull after a while. Taking to the violin near the end, at least he has other strings to his bow.