A blog on gigs, music, art and London.

Monday, 12 April 2010

Vashti Bunyan, David Kitt & Danny Norbury, Union Chapel, 11/04/10

I have been going to Union Chapel quite a lot lately for the free Daylight Music events organised by the Arctic Circle but evening concerts hosted there really are something else. The dark, discreetly lit Victorian chapel with its beautiful stained glass and gothic arches make for quite a special venue. I experience an undimmed sense of wonder each time I visit. I was there on Sunday evening to see Vashti Bunyan, with support from David Kitt and Danny Norbury.

Danny Norbury opened with an instrumental set of nice solo cello with piano accompaniment from English folk singer Nancy Elizabeth. Later, he uses a laptop to loop the cello to create a layered sound which suggests it to be the sonic equivalent of a fresh, crisp, rural spring morning. I found his music both expressive and involving and within it could detect hints of modern classical luminaries such as Max Richter and Johann Johannsson.

David Kitt played next with a little help from two members of The Magic Numbers. I remember seeing him play a slightly confusing set of heavy, looped electric guitar at 93 Feet East a few years ago but tonight he was back to his usual acoustic-singer-songwriter mode. His soft Irish accent lends songs such as ‘Step Outside In The Morning Light’ a real warmth. He also played a brilliant, quite sensitive, version of ‘Teardrops’ by Womack & Womack. By choosing to re-interpret a song from a different musical genre he shone light on the lyrics to reveal a previously unnoticed meaning and depth. Quite similar to when Tindersticks covered ‘If You’re Looking For A Way Out’ by Odyssey. He closed his set with ‘No Truth In Your Eyes’.

Over recent years I have got to know and love Vashti Bunyan’s music (after having first heard her music on Stuart Maconie’s wonderful Freak Zone show on BBC 6 Music). Tonight she is backed by three young musicians, who amongst them, play acoustic guitar, violin, piano, glockenspiel & flute. Vashti Bunyan plays acoustic guitar all evening. What becomes immediately evident is that she sounds live exactly like she does on record. Her voice is fragile and brittle, the musical arrangements gentle and pastoral. The whole show had an endearing sense of innocence to it and benefitted from the Union Chapel’s intimacy.

She introduces each song and says a little about it, at the same time alluding to certain periods and events of her life. Her lyrical themes of nature, weather, children, love and life appear throughout the set. She plays ‘Rainbow River’ alongside a recorder quartet as a tribute to arranger Robert Kirby who died last year. She divides the set between her three albums and also includes a couple of new songs yet to be recorded.

At one point she seems slightly taken aback by the exuberant cry of “thank you” from an audience member but on the whole seemed to be enjoying the show. While still not a person who appears naturally comfortable on stage she looks like a performer who has successfully overcome any previous nerves or shyness.

For me, the highlight of a brilliant show was the song ‘Wayward’, the last song before the encore. The lyrics and her explanation of what the song was about (being left at home to look after children while her partner is out experiencing life) reveal a sadness that I had never really picked up on before. The line about “wanting to be the one with road dust on my boots” is particularly poignant and the song sounds just beautiful.

I would have loved to have heard ‘Trawlerman’s Song’ (my favourite Vashti song) but it wasn’t to be.

A very special concert. Well done to the Arctic Circle for organising it all!

Vashti Bunyan Set List

Diamond Day
Here Before
Train Song
Winter Is Blue
If In Winter
Against The Sky
Rainbow River
Rose Hip November
Across The Water
Glow Worms
I’d Like To Walk Around In Your Mind


Come Wind Come Rain

1 comment:

Myriamba said...

I have just seen your article on Tinderstick..and had a look at your blog, that looks quite interesting.