Live Review: Keston Cobblers Club @ The Union Chapel

Editor's Review
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Keston Cobblers Club treated the crowd to a spectacular show at Islington’s Union Chapel. This sold out show was date number 4 on the folk five-piece’s 13-date UK tour which followed the release of their second album Almost Home on 31st March.

The Union Chapel was a beautiful setting for some equally exquisite music. The fivesome created a thrilling scene with an incredible light show and a projection of their band logo high up on the church’s vaulted ceiling. As everyone took their places in the pews I positioned myself upstairs where I had a brilliant view of the stage and whole venue.

They launched straight into Bicycles, taken from Almost Home, a gorgeous track which is characterised by its acoustic guitar strums and Julia and Matthew’s vocals harmonising in unison. The ode to angels in the song’s lyrics was incredibly fitting given the venue.

We waltzed back to 2015 album Wildfire for the next couple of tracks. Chirpy Won’t Look Back got the crowd hyped up with its brilliant acoustic guitars and trumpet outro. Contrails, one of my fave KCC tracks was great live as the heavy bassline reverberated all around the columns right up to the vaults and the gorgeous harmonies had an angelic edge.

The new albums title track Almost Home was an opportunity for Matthew to demonstrate his breath-taking vocals. The banjo coupled with the guitars and the tambourine flourishes lent it a strong folk vibe and when all the voices come together it’s a brilliant singalong track. Another one from Almost Home, Demons was up next with its heavy percussion and beautiful female harmonies. The trumpets give this track a stand-out edge.

The band treated us to the cream of the classic KKC song crop, ensuring the audience could sing along. The Mad is instantly recognisable from its gentle banjo opening which gradually gives way as Julia’s vocals slowly intensify. Its intense build-up made this one memorable. Your Mother picked up the pace again and got the crowd moving. This theme continued with Wildfire with its atmospheric drums and electronic elements, prolonged by an unintentional comedic interlude as drummer Harry dropped his drum stick.

Audience participation is always strong at KCC gigs and The Heights of Lola gave the audience a chance to shine and show off their harmonies. Then it was time for Matthew to take the spotlight on Half Full with his rousing opening vocals, followed by new track Conchord which was brilliant live with Matthew and his banjo taking centre stage. It’s a more downtempo track which is punctuated by heavy percussion and beautiful, atmospheric keys and strings.

As the night wore on the crowd were encouraged to get up and dance and everyone joined in, clapping, swaying and boogieing along. The aisles between the pews turned into a barn dance with people creating arches and couples galloping through to the sounds of We Will Heel Your Soles’ “come dance my friends…” The boogie feel of On Your Own from new album Almost Home continued the party theme. This is a great track as the band have experimented with a more electronic sound and some funky guitars with an unmistakable 70s vibe.

After a member of the crowd earlier shouted out a request for new song Forest Hill KCC obliged and this was the final track of the evening. It’s a beautiful, haunting song where Matthew’s vocals develop a gruff edge, leaving not one person in that room without chills. It’s a brooding and intense track which formed the perfect ending to an incredible set list.

As the band departed the stage the crowd weren’t ready for the party to end and sure enough they returned to perform an encore of a trio of unplugged songs. New track All I Need sounded beautiful stripped back to just a drum and minimal accompaniments. Following this they launched into an energetic cover of Dire Straits’ Money For Nothing, an unexpected twist which went down a treat. After announcing earlier in the show that tuba and accordion player Bethan was sadly leaving them at the end of this tour the final song Dun Dun Dun was a chance for her to showcase her talent one last time with her electrifying tuba solo.

What’s great about Keston Cobblers Club is that each performance turns into a party. They get every member of the audience involved by singing and dancing along and the anecdotes and chat with the crowd between songs are a great way to build a rapport with the audience.

Find out more about Keston Cobblers Club here and have a listen to new single Almost Home and classic track Contrails below. The new album Almost Home is out now.

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