The Union Chapel, Islington
The Flying Seagull Project bring laughter and smiles to the lives of children across the world through clowning, games, songs and silliness including the shattered lives of Syrian refugees across Europe.
Tonight’s benefit curated by Ed Harcourt had such a great atmosphere from the off. A short stand up set from Simon Munnery aka League Against Tedium was a Catherine wheel of gags, sparking, flying in all directions, too fast to catch them all and his Churchillian speech about headlice resulted in a similarly surreal heckle of a man in the audience handing him a nit comb.
The first half was a feast of talent as singing sisters Lock sweetly suggested snogging in the cinema, Kathryn Williams & Anthony Kerr bought the room to hushed standstill with a bewitching ‘I’m A Fool To Want You’ from their album of jazz standards. Tom McRae and Romeo Stodart of The Magic Numbers were similarly soft but devastating with Tom delivering an ace version of ‘The Ghost Of Tom Joad’ – an appropriate protest ditty for the night.
The second half was augmented by Ed on johanna and all female string section ‘Dirty Pretty Strings’ which produced some of the standout moments of the evening. Romeo killed again with a heartfelt ‘The Partisan’ delivered in a Cohenian low rumble. Sophie Ellis Bextor was nervous but shone effortlessly with pop glory including a reworking of that old Groovejet hit. Carl Barat gave sleazy ‘(Just Checked In) Condition, this stalker was thrilled to hear Kathryn Williams perform ‘Heart Shaped Stone’ backed by those gorgeous string arrangements on the recorded version.
And as for Charlotte Church – wow. She took ‘Lover You Should Have Come Over’ from its untouchable heights and went further. Recast with gospel backing vocals and southern soul she inhabited the lyric and empathised the shit out of Jeff Buckley’s mood.
The evening ended with the cast and congregation standing to give thanks and Hallelujah with Lenny’s death very much in the air for those on stage.
The message of the gig was not about what happened this night but what we choose to do next. The circus of politics this year has distracted us from the plight of tens of 1000’s
of people and particularly kids living in darkness, terror and unimaginable pain. People matter and we shouldn’t let politicians and the media take their eyes off what’re help is desperately needed
Included Jeremy Hardy who sadly did not give us his vocal stylings despite the presence of ISIHAC piano botherer Colin Sell as interval act leading us in a rendition of Where Did You Get That Hat to the tune of The Dambusters March.
It made me think..
As Kathryn said ‘Those in power wants us to believe that people are all selfish and horrible but people are really great – so fuck em’ . A life affirming night that bought a smile to my chops.