If one thing is abundantly clear tonight, it’s that this Union Chapel gig is a big deal for Emily Barker and her halo. All the stops are being pulled out – there are extra band members drafted in, posh frocks and even a guest turn from their buddy Frank Turner. Surely a sign of success then that the place is packed to the rafters.
Of course, pressure does have a habit of hindering even the most seasoned of performers and tonight there are signs that it’s getting to Emily, if only a little. Either that or it’s the effects of five straight weeks on The Revival Tour, ending only the night before in Leeds, which are causing signs of wear to show up in her vocals. It seems unfair though, somehow, to mark that out as if it is defining of the set or performance. It isn’t by any means.
As ever there is a suitable amount of variation, from the ‘hit’ Wallander theme Nostalgia which they open with the whole band, through Emily’s solos of Pause and Home, to new songs such as Letters. The result is a respectful audience who, despite being sizeable and in an echoing old church remain perfectly hushed, letting the acoustics really shine. That is, of course, until Frank Turner comes on stage for Fields of June. Being less than enamoured with the song or his grating vocals, I am clearly in a minority (as ever) in groaning a little as they get going. The rest of the audience are, as it seems, lapping it up.
The night ends with a whole cast performance of Neil Young’s Look Out For My Love, which is received with a standing ovation. I leave with Calendar running incessantly through my head, and hopes that with a new album due out in Spring this will not be the last time we see Emily Barker & The Red Clay Halo selling out major venues like Union Chapel.
Photos © Jo Cox and must not be reproduced without prior consent