Daylight Music Hosts. Union Chapel, London.
Matthew Bourne & Kit Downes, Nik Bartcsch, The Hermes Experiment. All hosted by Daylight Music who put on pay as you like lunchtime gigs at Union Chapel. I came for Matthew Bourne, who I had heard of and for the venue, famous for its stunning acoustics.
Somehow I’ve never been to this iconic London music venue. So when I realised there was an opportunity to see Matthew play there it felt too good to turn down. I managed to get return coach for £4.80 and there is an excellent gluten free cafe right nearby. What wasn’t to love about this gig before it even started?
It turned out that one of my 6 Music mates was also in London and wasn’t travelling home until after this gig, so I invited Kev along. He is one of my Mary Anne mates, and Matthew is an artist I knew because she played him. Bad for my bank balance, good for my soul is Mary Anne.
After a hearty double breakfast of savoury and sweet danishes at Beyond Bread me n Kev went to queue in the rain. Union Chapel is one of those venues you’ve heard loads about, how its acoustics are stunning and you wonder if there is a degree of hyperbole involved. As I walked in it took my breath away, it is every bit as beautiful as everyone says. Just stunning. We managed to find our way down to seats in the second row and tried to take in all of the gorgeous views. The octagonal, wooden ceiling is miles high, the stained glass (in repeating patterns of 8) lovely, the pews spreading out seemingly in every direction behind us.
Our first of our trio of acts were Hermes Experiment, a young and very talented bunch of musicians who play a mixture of arrangements, some reworkings of classic songs (Big Yellow Taxi and Got Rhythm) and original classical/jazz compositions written for them. A clarinet, a harp, a double bass and a voice all blended together to make unique sounds. They were creative and witty and I liked them very much.
Nik Bartsch was next up. A pianist, composer and zen master apparently. His music certainly put me into a deep meditative state. It was rhythmic, inventive and awesome. Wow was about all I could say after he performed. Just wow. What a fabulous treat to have heard him play. I thought he was amazing. The way he used repetitive note patterns and motifs to build and layer the music was almost trance like. It was hypnotic. I adored it.
Matthew and Kit were the final of our trip of acts and they were to play complementary solo pieces on the incredible church organ (Kit) and piano (Matthew). Both gave masterclasses in what their instrument could do. It was a duet, they played one after another, stretching and reaching but never quite touching or overlapping. It worked so well. The rich warmth and range of sounds the organ could produce was met by the starker and more thoughtful playing of the piano. Matthew really plays each note, allowing them to fully end before picking the next. His movements carefully chosen and fingers placed with exactitude. He played with such intensity and passion, resting his head on the piano and the emotions were written all over his taut face. It was so very different from Nik or Bing or any other pianist I’ve seen. Kit, hidden away inside the organ was barely visible but the sounds he produced were wonderful. Needless to say I loved them also.
We had been treated, for the price of a donation, to 3 amazing acts. Each on their own would have been worth showing up for, but all of them made for a special and unique lunchtime. I hope to find myself again sitting in the Union Chapel someday. It is the most beautiful venue I’ve been too so far. With stunning acoustics. Every minute of this gig was worth the hours of coach travel.
Thank you Daylight Music. Thank you all the musicians. Thank you Kev, it was ace to share another gig with you and who knows when and where we will get to do so again.
40+6 was an inspiration.