Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Stranger Things...

It’s rare you’ll find me in church, let alone on a Monday. But Stranger Things Have Happened.

That’s how I kicked off my week, at a concert in St-Giles-in-the-Fields, London. There to see – and hear – Clare Maguire.

Back in the days when my parents used to force me and my sisters to go to church, if they’d told us there was going to be a show like that on instead of some dry priestly sermon we wouldn’t have kicked up such a stink. I’m still an irreligious soul at heart, but concerts of this calibre would confirm me as a regular churchgoer.

The support act, identifying herself as Klara from Sweden (check her out on Facebook) warmed us up with some hauntingly beautiful numbers, one or two that would not have been out of place as themes for some of the Nordic Noir crime dramas I’ve been watching lately, and then the main act was something else.

Solely on the strength of her Light After Dark album, I knew Clare was an incredible singer – it’s why I travelled up to London to hear her. But performing live, pared of production, turns out she’s even better than I knew. There’s an almost gospel quality to her voice that sells every song with power and emotion. Right at home, while bringing the roof down.

This was the start of her tour to promote Stranger Things Have Happened and due to circumstances beyond my control I hadn’t heard anything of the new album. At other concerts where I’ve heard artists’ tracks for the first time, the lack of familiarity has been known to create a degree of distance or detachment, but something definitely resonated on this occasion because every one of the new songs connected. Hit home – like bullets through my bones, you might say.

Put it down to that rare conjunction of talent, performance and a beautiful setting. This was my first visit to St Giles and it made for an amazing venue, accommodating a modest but enthusiastic crowd. Especially when Clare sent out for beer for the audience. Which maybe I shouldn’t have mentioned, because people might expect that at every show. But it’s a good illustration of the great sense of humour that seasoned the gig between songs and added to the all round entertainment.

Me, I didn’t avail myself of the beer – I had another train to catch after the show and who needs an alcohol buzz when the music buzz is that good – but I did stick around to say hello. And Clare took the time out for a chat and sign a CD which were pretty much the icing on the cake of a very worthwhile trip up from the remote reaches of Cornwall.

All in all, a brilliant night and as I headed back home, Clare was on her way to tour dates elsewhere, so if you happen to spot a poster saying she’s appearing at a venue anywhere near you, I seriously recommend you go treat yourself.

Might not be in a church. But it will be special.

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