Emily Barker at the Union Chapel… and the Rocking Trio at the King’s Head, Islington

I’ve just had the most brilliant musical evening. I’m staying up late to write about it because I’m away for the next few days. And I’m still buzzing…

It started with Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo at the Union Chapel in Islington.  If you follow my blog closely, you’ll know I love this band and have reviewed them before.  This was a big concert for them tonight.  The final gig of a headlining tour. I’d not been to the Union Chapel before.  It’s a lovely venue. Still a church, but multi-purpose. Magnificent arches and diagonal seating which focuses the whole congregation on centre stage. Which, tonight, was Emily. It’s the third time I’ve seen her and the band in the last year. You could sense the occasion tonight. She was a little nervous at the start. And who wouldn’t be at such an important moment.  I felt for her.

It was a fantastic concert. Beautiful tunes, singing, playing, everything.  My personal highlight was about half way through with the wonderful “Pause”, just Emily strumming on her electric guitar and all four members of the band singing the loveliest harmonies. And following that,  a delicate tune from the first album, “Photos.Fires.Fables”, called ‘This Is How It’s Meant To Be”, a wistful melody, lovely plucked guitar and some harmonica at the end which was just so perfect. Really moving. I felt the tears welling for these two songs.

There were a few new songs, from the forthcoming album in the new year. They were a bit more electric, a bit more upbeat. Preparing for a bigger stage? I liked them (of course). The music had a hint of Springsteen.  That is always OK by me!

The concert ended quite early – around 10.15 – so there was an option to have a couple more beers. One of my friends, Shane, and I decided to wander down Upper Street and find a decent pub. Shane lives locally, so he knows where to go.  We went into the Kings Head and found a rock’n’roll band playing. A trio called… The Rocking Trio. They were really good.  When we arrived they were playing that music that just pre-dated the rock’n’roll explosion, a hint of jazz and swing, Latin. A few people were dancing; one couple were jiving. The vibe was good.

Shane and I got our lagers and slipped towards the back of the pub where we could still talk. But the music increasingly captured our attention. Rock’n’roll classics: Eddie Cochran, Buddy Holly, Jerry Lee Lewis, Chuck Berry, Elvis. It was really good!  Superb guitar, a classic double bass, a solid drum beat holding it all together. I’d only intended to have a quick pint. But it was so enjoyable that I suggested one for the road… and then another! It wasn’t the beer, it was the music. We didn’t want to leave. At 11.45 I started to think about the tube home to West London, so had to leave, but I could have stayed. It was great stuff.

Simple, brilliant rock’n’roll. The essence.

I loved the end to this evening. Emily Barker was just so good. But then Shane and I had this bonus. Purely by chance. Wonderful.

I think the word is serendipity.

(Previous review here)

About John S

I'm blogging about the things I love: music, sport, culture, London, with some photos to illustrate aspects of our wonderful city. I’ve written a novel called “The Decision”, a futuristic political thriller, and first of a trilogy. I’m also the author of a book on music since the 1970s called “ I Was There - A Musical Journey” and a volume of poetry about youth, “Growin’ Up - Snapshots/ Fragments”. All available on Amazon and Kindle.
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7 Responses to Emily Barker at the Union Chapel… and the Rocking Trio at the King’s Head, Islington

  1. dc says:

    yeah but wait till you hear my metal cd…..

  2. All new musicians to me. Sounds like the music was great and you had an even better time!

  3. DyingNote says:

    Looking forward to that Emily Barker record next year. Had heard bits from Almanac previously. And yeah, John it’s always the music and never the beer. It happens so many times with me

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