Solomon Grey – The Lantern, Bristol

Wednesday 7th March

During #40gigs I bought a lot of random tickets and it led me to wonderful places. My instincts have been good and the quality of the acts who play the Lantern is usually high (Peggy Seeger, Saul Williams, Manu Delago et al) so taking a chance on Solomon Grey was simply an extension of that adventurous spirit and dedication to music.

Between the ticket purchase and the show Joe had written an incredibly moving article for the Guardian about losing his Mum. The way he had responded to me and others in such a warm and human way on Twitter made me want to like his music.

Support came from a young Australian composer, Anatoli, who Big Geoff assured me was very good. This was only his second show outside Oz and a few technical hitches and accidental dropping of a trumpet aside he was very good. A classically trained musician (he played the flute and the trumpet as well as keys and programming), who turned to electronic sounds to express the emotions and landscapes he saw and felt every day. He has been working with Olafur Arnolds, which sort of speaks for itself.

Solomon Grey had been sitting very patiently onstage for the interval to finish, and looked like a couple of lost geography teachers! They started to play lovely electronic and orchestral sounds. Then Joe opened his voice and started to sing. I was not expecting the beguiling and beautiful sounds that sprang forth. So much higher in register than you would expect, and so versatile too. Wow.

The music was moving, emotional, full of sadness and loss. It really resonated. There were tracks he admitted “this one is hard” and despite the obvious emotion in his face, the voice did not waver. There was so much warmth and humanity in both the music and the performance I wanted to jump onto the stage and hug him and Tom.

It is a risk buying a ticket for a gig where you don’t know the artist, but so far my gut has led me to the discovery of some wonderful music. Solomon Grey can be added to that list.

Their new album is called Human Music which sums them up perfectly. Sometimes the best things are discovered by chance, when you are least expecting it the most wonderful things can happen.

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