Cherry Ghost, Union Chapel, London
Wednesday 23 March 2011
When someone's got northern soul, it's good to see them keeping the faith. The Bolton-born indie rock quintet Cherry Ghost have got it by the coal mine-full, and huddled round the font in Islington's Union Chapel they looked every bit the heavenly host, albeit with guitars rather than harps. Performing in a cherry-coloured glow which whispered through the stained-glass windows, you'd be forgiven for mistaking them for the resurrected personas of all those who died of joy at the first-ever Smiths gig.
Descended from the same musical bloodline as Elbow, these guys exhibit an understated ease that would be mistaken for shyness were their riffs not so assured. When a few stragglers creep through the door 15 minutes in, lead singer Simon Aldred declares: "This song's for the people at the back who thought they had enough time for a pint."
Aldred is the real deal. In more ways than one, his is the voice of experience. Subtle, pure and unashamedly Lancashire, it's the voice of an old soul who has known pain and isn't afraid to bare it.
The songs "The Night They Buried Sadie Clay", from their second album, "Beneath this Burning Shoreline", and their debut single "Mathematics" soared to every inch of the arched ceiling. And I think it fair to say that being present when the majestic ballad "People Help the People" (which won an Ivor Novello award for best contemporary song in 2008) finally chimed out over our enraptured ears was the closest many will get to a religious experience.
The band intermittently sipped Woodpecker, but more in a "We're a bit thirsty" than a "That's right, we're drinking alcohol on stage" kinda way. Reminding us how they won a place in our hearts, the set was closed with Aldred's words: "Thanks for coming, you've been very sweet." And then they were gone, far too soon.
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