Communion, Notting Hill Arts Club, London
Thursday 04 March 2010
You'd expect the capital's most fertile ground for new musical acts to be somewhere hip like Camden in the north, or Dalston in the east. But right now it's the comfortable south-western enclaves of Barnes, Wimbledon and Fulham that seem to be producing the goods. Thus the first Sunday evening of every month sees dedicated followers of the district's folk scene descend the stairs to the Notting Hill Arts Club for Communion, a regular night organised by Mumford & Sons' keyboard player, Ben Lovett, and Cherbourg (the band, not the ferry port) bassist Kevin Jones.
This time around they're launching the Communion LP, a compilation of acts that's the first release for their record label of the same name. The evening features an enviable line-up of young artists, including Pete Roe, a solo singer-songwriter; NME-approved up-and-comers Kurran and the Wolfnotes; Marcus Foster, who had the good fortune to feature on the Twilight soundtrack; and Alessi's Ark, aka Alessi Laurent-Marke, a 19-year-old with a lovely voice and an intriguingly kooky persona, whose hushed songs are forced to do battle with the audience chatter.
That chatter is silenced by the two acts that bookend Alessi's set. Songwriter Joe Steer's outfit, Broadcast 2000, have already made a decent career soundtracking TV ads and trailers. Tonight the band is stripped of its string quartet, but the minimalist trio that remain produce a compellingly offbeat folk sound. Steer's songs are bolstered by some energetic glockenspiel bashing from the trucker-capped Tom Andrews. The band's eponymous debut album was released last week.
Matt Hegarty, better known as Matthew and the Atlas, is the first official signing to the Communion label and takes the stage with his full band for what's only (though you wouldn't guess it) their second gig. His contribution to the compilation is "Deadwood", a rolling acoustic riff that sounds not unlike John Martyn's "Over the Hill" being covered by Ray LaMontagne. Hegarty's enviably rich timbre is a powerful weapon. A shy fellow, he almost loses the crowd to chatter while re-tuning his guitar – only to open his mouth and spellbind them once more. His band closes the set with the rollicking "I Will Remain" from their forthcoming To the North EP, and are joined by Jones and members of Broadcast 2000 on handclaps and percussion. They're all friends here, after all.
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