Blue House are a London band featuring James Howard and Ursula Russell, who both sing and play guitar. Their debut album, “Suppose”, was No 8 in my Top Ten of 2016. Jon G and I saw them at End of the Road and couldn’t miss the chance to see them again in London. The venue was St Pancras Old Church, not far from the station. Apparently the site of the church is one of the oldest in Christianity here in England. The original church may have dated from Saxon times and there were even Roman elements in the original walls. It was reconstructed in Victorian times and has had a few refurbishments since, including after the Second World War. The church hosts quite a few gigs – I almost went there once before when Daisy Vaughan was due to play a rare show, but the concert was cancelled because the lead band had had all their equipment stolen on a US tour.
It’s a lovely church, but not that well-equipped for rock concerts. Blue House have a fairly gentle sound, especially on record, but they do get the electric guitars going at times. So why they chose this venue for a flagship gig, I’m not sure. The stage wasn’t that well-lit – hence the quality of the photo (which was the best one!), as I had to resort to the iPhone. My camera wouldn’t focus without the flash and I didn’t want to use that.
The band got off to a great start with my favourite track, “Ear to the Door”. The sound was a bit murky though – they didn’t have the quality of speakers that they had at End of the Road. We got a decent selection from the album, with “Hot Air Balloons” a predictable highlight. It’s one of the songs that gives them a chance to rock out a bit, which they do very well.
But then they turned to tributes to David Bowie and Leonard Cohen. We got two excellent Bowie covers – “Sound and Vision” and “The Man Who Sold the World”. Great choices! Then there were three Leonard Cohens – unless one of them was a new song of their own. Leonard Cohen was one of those people I never really got around to listening to, so the covers didn’t resonate with me. They were nicely done, but, I felt, an odd way to finish the concert. There were quite a few of their own songs they didn’t play – including their own wonderful Bowie tribute, “January the Tenth”.
So I really enjoyed the gig, but it didn’t wow me as much as the End of the Road performance did. Everyone was sitting down politely too. Churches, with their seats in neat rows, don’t exactly encourage rocking!
We had a nice touch at the end. There had been a guy behind us who talked a bit of football with us when Jon was checking half time scores before the show started. Afterwards, he revealed himself as the father of Ursula. He said they would have a new album out in the spring, which will better than the first. Well, it will be pretty damn good then!
A fine band, who didn’t really do themselves justice tonight; but I’ll be there for the next London gig if I can. No doubt about that.