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Woodpigeon and Laura Gibson

Two friends of this blog are playing a show at the Union Chapel next Thursday.

Woodpigeon is the work of Canadian wonder Mark Hamilton. Mark is an excellent story teller; he constructs beautifully rich songs that hook you in with their stories and beautiful arrangements. Mark is one of the first musicians I met when I moved to London. He had a solo show at The Slaughtered Lamb in October 2008. When I first came to London I went to almost all my gigs by myself, so I was sitting on the couch drawing comics. Mark came to say hi and was very warm and friendly. He draws too. I’ve seen him play a few more times since then, incuding with a full band. It’s lovely. He has a new record out called ‘Die Stadt Muzikanten’, out now! Listen to some songs on his Myspace.

Secondly, the sweet and brilliant Laura Gibson is supporting. I love listening to Laura sing her beautifully delicate songs so carefully. She makes such beautiful sounds! Her voice in Union Chapel and the silences between words will be incredible.

Tickets and info here.

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Review: First Aid Kit at Union Chapel

I love Union Chapel. For the right bands, the sound of the building just makes lovely sounds sound even lovelier. It’s a beautiful space and it’s always jolly nice to get a cup of tea in a mug while watching a gig.

The Tiny opened the show. They are a duo from Sweden (+10 points) and they are INCREDIBLE. I thoroughly enjoyed their set despite not being familiar with their music, besides delving into a few songs via videos on Youtube. The singer has an amazing voice; she looked like an opera singer taking centre stage and outstretching her arms, singing at the top of her lungs.

Her musical partner added whistling, glockenspiel and cello parts- as well as a ton of charm via pretty much grinning through the whole set. The pair of them were so endearing to watch, you could tell they were really enjoying playing. The singer was really cheery and had the typical Scandinavian oddness laced in through her banter; she was pretty hilarious. Vocally she reminded me of Bjork, through the sheer power of her voice. Sometimes you get singers that are blatantly trying to sound like Bjork, but the similarities were unforced and she was singing completely naturally.

The best part of the set for me is the inclusion of musical saw. When I saw it I couldn’t help but do a massive gasp of joy- I love that instrument! And what a delight to hear it in Union Chapel. I really loved their set and I would definately recommend trying to catch them live.

Next, First Aid Kit. The Swedish sister duo have come a really long way since I first saw them play at Pure Groove over a year ago. Their set is so wonderfully tight and faultless, their voices radiated in Union Chapel and it felt like a really triumphant show. The banter was sweet and endearing, and this time they played with a drummer which added alot to their sound and gave their more rocking moments a boost. They played Tiger Peasant Mountain, their Fleet Foxes cover that helped them garner alot of well deserved attention, and it went down a treat- the acoustics of Union Chapel are made for songs like that. They played songs from their new record as well as their old EP, and reveled in being able to do a totally acoustic song- the whole venue was completely silent.

They left the stage to a standing ovation and came back for two encores, with the last song being performed off the stage in front of the first pew, completely unamplified. It was charming. As I left the venue I walked past the merch stand and there they were selling their own merch and singing happy birthday to a fan. It was very sweet, they seem genuinely lovely and it’s great to see them doing so well. A lovely show indeed.

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Review: The Antlers at Union Chapel

I really love The Antlers. Hospice is such a beautiful record, so well executed. It’s brilliant. I got to see them play five times last year and I don’t think I witnessed a more heartbreaking moment than Peter’s acapella opening to Epilogue at Bush Hall. That line ‘now it’s not a cancer ward, we’re sleeping in the morgue‘ pretty much killed me.

Opening the show at Union Chapel was Marques Toliver, violinist extraordinaire. I was pretty keen to check him out; I really love his work with Holly Miranda (check out his wonderfully gorgeous violin parts here). He looked very dapper in bow tie and waistcoat and treated the audience to a few compositions. He’s very talented and I enjoyed his set.

The Antlers took to the stage. They sold out Union Chapel, which was hardly surprising considering how great they are. Nonetheless, the venue was several times the size of the venues they played at on their first shows here, and there were probably ten times as many people at this show than at their 229 show last September. It’s pretty epic, and great to see them doing so well. This show went by really quickly… they opened with Thirteen. I love how that song sounds on the record, with Sharon singing, but they do it so beautifully live as well.

Peter has such an incredible voice, and Darby is a multi tasking whizz… making bass sounds with his foot pedals, playing keyboards with his hands and singing. I love all the subtleties Michael adds. The show was undoubtebly beautiful, but perhaps a tad bit restrained and certainly not as rockin’ as the shows I caught last year. But really, it suited the venue best. They were joined by a couple of brass players and Marques Toliver for a few songs. Set highlights for me were the set closers, Wake and Epilogue. The band returned for an encore of Cold War.

The band have a show at Scala on May 19th and play End of the Road festival in September. Pick up Hospice if you haven’t already, listen to them here.

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Photos: Owen Pallett and Sam Amidon

Tonight, at Union Chapel:

More here.

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Review: Andrew Bird at Union Chapel

On Tuesday night I was lucky enough to get myself a ticket to see the wonderfully talented Mr Andrew Bird play in the beautiful Union Chapel. I caught him play at the, also wonderful, St Giles Church… and so the prospect of hearing his wonderful songs in a church again was well worth the ticket price. 

Moriarty opened the show and managed to warm the chapel with their fun, playful old time jazzy, cabaret style folk music. You know it’s the hallmark of  good band when you’ve seen them before and then you see them on the bill of a show you are going to and think ‘oh good, I’d like to see them again’. Perhaps the majority of the crowd were unfamiliar with the Franco-American’s light hearted tunes but you could tell from the applause and cheers between songs that they were most certainly being won over. The band all gather round one single mic; the acoustics of the chapel leant itself perfectly to this minimalist setup. Each band member had their chance to shine, with some brilliant harmonica, spoken word, guitar and (crazed ninja-style) glock parts. Thoroughly recommend catching this band if you have the chance.

Then! Andrew Bird o’clock! The Bird man always looks very suave, and in the seated venue it all felt like a pleasingly sophisticated affair. It’s amazing how he can fill such a big space with his looping. The whole chapel was loving it and hung on his every word. He alters the arrangements of songs when performing live, often making them even more magnificent. I foolishly did not note down the setlist, but he played a nice mixture of old and new. Early on in the set her played a favourite of mine – Sweetbreads. He explained about he felt it was too cheery, which is why he spliced it up and turned it into Dark Matter. The song he played live was quite similar to the original, and a real delight to hear- it’s my favourite Andrew Bird song (which you can find on Fingerlings). Oh No was stunning, the live version even more wonderful than the original. There’s a playful sense to Andrew Bird; he brings a stuffed animal to the stage with him and frequently walks in circles and activates the giant gramophone behind him (he calls it Spinny), and always slips off his shoes. It’s endearing and there was a really warm atmosphere.

Effigy, Anonanimal and Tenuousness were all beautiful- three of my favourites from Noble Beast. He treated the audience to a completely brand new song, it was about the ship Lusitania and its sinking. It was fantastic and I can’t wait to hear it recorded. He played MX Missiles because he hadn’t played it in a while. It was a treat. Why? is always fun live, it’s a playful and sweet song. He closed with Plasticities

He returned for an un-amplified song at the side of the stage, it was perfect. He is a very talented musician, listen to his albums and don’t miss the chance to see him live. He’s wonderful both with a band and by himself. 

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