After a long time on the film festival circuit I have recently returned to the world of music gigs for the first time since my twenties. I’ve seen a good variety of venues, from dingy pubs to more iconic ones that all seem to have O2 appended to them. My first visit to the Union Chapel in London was something of a surprise, principally because it is still a functioning church, so it was a totally seated event, in the church pews, which are not built for comfort. To add to the civilised nature of the event, there was even ushers selling ice-cream from trays, like you used to see in all cinemas.
The civility continued throughout the night. Opening act Grass Houses commented on the fact that they weren’t used to people being quiet and applauding while they play (clearly they do a lot of support gigs). Their music, with a tendency to the melancholic that would not have been out of place on the soundtrack to Wim Wenders’ film Until the End of the World, set the tone for the rest of the evening.
Cold Specks is something of an anomaly. The band looks like a conservative modern jazz band, while she has the air of a bashful school teacher. However, with guitar in hand she sounds like blues/gospel singer from the American deep south. The music is melancholy but strangely uplifting. Appropriately, the set’s encore finished with Specks mounting the pulpit and singing, unaided by microphone or musical instruments, that really demonstrated the full power of her vocal chords.