Daylight Music – Union Chapel, London

Saturday 14th December, 2019

I had decided to treat myself to staying over in London, rather than getting a late coach home, which also meant I was able to get to Daylight Music for its last hurrah of the year. Daylight Music has been celebrating its 10th birthday in 2019, which is such tribute to Ben and all the volunteers who make it what it is. On most Saturdays in the year you will find them beavering away at the fabulous Union Chapel. There are always at least 3 acts, tea, cake and smiles. It is about the perfect way to spend a Saturday lunchtime in my book.

This Daylight Music was curated by the wonderful Lost Map record label, of whom I am a postcard subscriber and I was looking forward to hearing more from this quirky little label.

Callum Easter had the unenviable job of playing first, as the huge crowd were still thronging in. As a result I didn’t get to hear as much of him as I would have liked. A singing accordion player with electronics in the background, I liked him and will keep my ears pricked for an opportunity to see him again.

The in between act was playing Last Christmas on the church organ (covers are allowed under the rules of Whamaggedon so I’m still a survivor!) and hearing the Wombles theme tune played on a 150 year old church organ is something I will not forget in a hurry.

Rozi Plain, a Bristol local, was up next. I had heard as part of This Is The Kit at the BBC 6 Music festival a few yeas back, and despite everyone else loving them (and on paper them being a band I should love) I was underwhelmed. I am sad to say the same happened today. For whatever reason, Rozi’s music doesn’t sit with me. She is very talented, it just isn’t for me. I really could have done without the very long communist speech from the saxophone player in the middle of the set – I felt the band were about to launch into Internationale! I’ve no problem with politics in music, but an entire speech on a Saturday lunchtime for an audience that were not yours. No, lad, no. Rozi herself, speaking from the heart, about the need to draw together, was considerably more powerful.

Pictish Trail were next and I loved them, they were easily my favourites of the day. Looking like Aussie mechanics in boiler suits and caps, with a wonderful sideline in surreal comedy, possessed of a beautiful voice that filled the chapel, I was a happier bunny now. This was more my sort of thing. The right sort of strange. I think I would be quite happy on the fictional Scottish island of Egg with Pictish Trail. Given that politically I may well need to move to Scotland in a few years (thank you Scottish Grandma) this bodes well.

Glasgow Dreamers were last up and I also liked them. They played a series of Ivor Cutler covers and the surreal humour was a much needed and welcome release. Cow bells echoing out across and around the beautiful Union Chapel was worth showing up for all by itself. They closed with all the other acts of the day joining them onstage and singing Women of the World Take Over. If only, if only. That moment would have had a lot more power if there were more than 3 women on the stage, surrounded by three times as many men. Just saying, lads, if you want us to take over, you have to make space, by giving up some.

This was the musical tonic I needed. Saying a brief hello to Ben and Kate – good, good people who care, and being there with my friend Ian to share in the music and friendship was what was needed this weekend. I had taken myself mostly offline since the election results, I needed time to breathe and grieve. I wanted to concentrate on being in the real world and with the things that matter; music and people. I am still mourning for the country I thought Britain was; a place of more tolerance and caring than this. I am still frightened about the future. More than half of my income comes from the state in the form of various benefits. All of it if you consider that my earned wage is from the NHS. I am a single parent with multiple chronic long term health problems to a child with additional needs. Everything we depend on to make our lives worthwhile is publicly funded. I have no partner, almost no family and very few friends. No state help and I am finished. The very real threats to my livelihood, financial support and the school support my son needs are terrifying.

My return coach to London cost £12, entry to Daylight Music is free and my Air BnB was £27. Little luxuries like these will go soon. There will be others (perhaps me, who knows) who lose a lot more. Homes, jobs, lives.

I needed time to remember what is good, and what matters. Music. Friendship. I hope those things last. I will be clinging to them both with all the hope I can muster for the next however many years we all have to endure this cold and cruel government. At some point I will find the strength to think about how I can help ensure there are better days ahead, even if I don’t live to see them. Like old folk who plant trees in who’s shade they will never sit. I have to believe in the power of art to change lives and indeed the world. For now, while I still could, I enjoyed the warmth of the community of music.

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