Shadow Orchestra play the Union Chapel

The Union Chapel - an incredible venue for live music

The Union Chapel is probably one of my favourite venues anywhere, purely for its ambience and acoustics. Spacious yet surprisingly intimate, with a phenomenal natural reverb, it’s a superb venue for live music – especially leaning towards the quieter, acoustic end of the spectrum.

As an aside, the Chapel urgently needs cash for restoration –  please donate what you can to help keep this amazing venue going.

It was a huge thrill to play there with the Shadow Orchestra on Saturday as part of the Daylight Music series, run by Ben Eshmade of Arctic Circle. Ben scored a huge number of bonus promoter points by making us all tea while we were setting up. More promoters should make the tea, I feel.

Topping the bill!

First on the bill were the excellent Magic Lantern, featuring cello, clarinet/bass clarinet, percussion, guitar and voice. I loved their richly textured, dramatic songs, which reminded me a bit of Final Fantasy and the Fleet Foxes. I’ve bought their album sampler, and I look forward to hearing the full album soon.

The Magic Lantern

Next up were Men-an-Tol – much more folky, but they sounded great and had loads of swing.  The singer had such a beautiful voice, straight from the canon of classic English folk.  Also, they were all absolutely lovely people, as we found out on Friday night – we were all doing last-minute rehearsals at the same studio.


I missed their cover of Iron Man, as I was faffing around backstage, but apparently it was genius. They also made the inspired move of sticking a small brass section in the pulpit, which sounded incredible.

It's what pulpits were made for (maybe)

I don’t know if anyone took any pics of us playing, so here’s one of us bimbling round on stage before the soundcheck. Huge props to sound engineer Ryan, who dispatched our soundcheck in a record 15 mins and did a brilliant job of dealing with our rather complicated lineup.

The Shadow Orchestra, faffing.

We played a more chilled-out set than usual, leaning towards our quieter tracks. It was a great gig, and new tracks Folkstep (with added 4 minute-long cello duel) and Nick’s Lament went down really well. Though it’s very weird to have to get psyched up for a gig at lunchtime, and then to have an adrenaline come-down at teatime… Things weren’t helped by heading off afterwards to have the nastiest Thai food I’ve had in a long time – avoid eating at the Library in Islington if you can help it.

But here’s the real star of the show – the dressing-room fan heater. Despite it being allegedly summer, it was absolutely freezing in the chapel and outside. We ended up huddled around the heater, trying desperately to warm our hands up. Rock and roll!

Our greatest fan! (I'll get my coat...)

Our next gig is our EP launch at Proud Galleries in Camden on the 30th June – come down to claim your free CD, plus cakes and other goodies! Facebook invitation here.

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