Solomon Grey – Union Chapel, London

Thursday 25th October, 2018

I was itching to write this as soon as I could, but I had to write about Gaz in Newcastle first and that was a tricky one, emotionally. It is also my boy’s 12th birthday and the celebrations of that have understandably taken me away from writing. He is happily building and playing with Lego as I type.

I saw Solomon Grey earlier this year, as a random ticket purchase, and had instantly fallen in love with the beauty of their music. When they announced this gig, in the beautiful surroundings of Union Chapel there was no way I was going to miss it.

I’ve only been to Union Chapel in the daytime before, for the fantastic Daylight Music series (go, just go) so to see the space lit up at night was gorgeous all by itself. Atmospheric and pretty it was.

I missed a lot of the support act as my boy phoned me with birthday related queries, but they were an electronic group fronted by a singer with a great voice, therefore suited to Solomon Grey.

Just as before Joe and Tom came out and sat patiently waiting for the interval to be over, they are a very polite band! On the bigger stage of the chapel they had an impressive array of electronic wizardry, as well as a reel to reel tape recording system and a tape deck. It was an amazing mix of analogue and digital tech, all of which was used. The lighting was superb and really added to the atmosphere. Union Chapel is a special place with great acoustics and I loved being there.

There were numerous technical issues at the start, which resulted in a stressed looking Joe starting one song again. I don’t think any of minded hearing it again to be honest! The music was even more touching and beautiful than the first time I heard it, as this time I knew the songs. The album is called Human Music and that just about sums up Solomon Grey for me. These are heartfelt, emotional and incredibly humane songs of love and loss. They move me very much. Joe’s falsetto soared into the chapel with lamenting and haunting qualities. He and Tom work seamlessly to bring all of the musical elements together. I loved when both sets of hands were working the electronic motherboard at the same time, they are musicians in perfect symbiosis. With the staging and lighting there were times when it felt like they were sonic scientists, teasing and drawing life from the electronics and piano to create their perfect musical vision.

You can see and feel the emotion that goes into every song, the pain underwriting the love poured into every note is written all over Joe’s face. Yet he controls his vocal with precision. It’s a sound to behold and wonder at. Truly.

There is a redemptive, healing quality to music like this. When it is written, played and shared from human heart to human heart, there really is nothing like it.

I got to deliver the promised hugs after the show (cakes next time the gig is local, ok). This was a beautiful gig, beautiful music in a beautiful place with beautiful people. It was what my soul needed, the salve and balm my heart required.

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