If you’ve ever been fortunate enough to witness a musical event at London’s Union Chapel then you certainly would have appreciated its intimacy and wonderful acoustic properties. It is a venue unlike any other in London and tonight (8th April 2014) the talented Icelandic singer-songwriter ‘Asgeir’ was the latest artist to perform in its hallowed bowels.
It was a triumphant performance from the softly spoken musician. Both artist and venue seemed to complement each other and as a result created an experience that left many feverishly applauding come final curtain.
The set was largely built from the acclaimed 2014 album ‘In the Silence’ but we were thrown a couple of curve-balls for good measure. One of the curve-balls was in fact also one of the highlights of the evening. ‘Lupin Intrigue’, the B-side to the popular ‘King and Cross’ with its subtle keyboards and vocals were so delicate to begin with you could even hear the occasional shutter click from the venues photographer. It was purely an appetizer for the remainder of an extremely fulfilling evening.
New single ‘Higher’ was given a deserved airing. One of the most popular tracks from the LP seemed to gain a new lease of life as its beautiful chorus bounced from marble archway to stone wall to masonry engraved ceiling. ‘Asgeir’ seemed humbled by his surroundings and exclaimed afterwards that “this is the most beautiful venue we have ever played”. You couldn’t help but to agree with him. Crowd partition was not even required tonight. You were there to listen and to absorb this wonderful union of music and gothic architecture.
The highlight of the evening though was not the predicted ‘King and Cross’ or even ‘Torrent’, both of which are performed beautifully and dually received their deserved applause. No, the outstanding moment was the performance of ‘Going Home’ which introduced swirling keyboards, electronica and an unmistakable modern feel to this 19th century venue. And, the other curve-ball I mentioned earlier? Well it was the cover version of the 1993 Nivarna track ‘Heart Shaped Box’. Poignantly played just days after the anniversary of the Nivarna frontman’s death it certainly did justice to the original and was warmly received. However, for Nivarna purists be assured your original still remains head and shoulders above this clever interpretation, but credit to the artist for covering something at the opposite end of his genres spectrum.
It was a quite stunning evening and based on this evening’s performance, and the word of mouth that accompanies it, I would suggest that the remainder of this tour and his Shepherds Bush show in November will deservedly sell well.
And finally, while I would never be so blasphemous to suggest it, there is something to be said for more gigs being held in churches. Whether St Pauls Cathedral will ever open its doors to the Arctic Monkey’s remains to be seen. We live in hope.