It’s an Autumnal Evening on the 23rd October when my husband and I risked public transport in London to make our way to the wonderful Union chapel in Islington. Built in the late 19th century in the Gothic revival style, the church is a Grade 1 listed building, an active Congregational church and a superb music venue.
As we took our place in the pews, yes, it is that kind of church, we took in the purple, blue and red lighting, the stained glass window above the pulpit and the high domed ceiling that together create an amazing “feel” of the space.
The show was sold out and the pews were full as “Cross Atlantic” took the stage to warm up the crowd for Brandy Clark. The duo introduced themselves as a Missouri girl and an English dude who met in the queue of a coffee shop in Nashville. Karli and James got chatting, discovered that they were both songwriters and it seemed natural that they would be writing together. A lively and entertaining set followed and their single “Get back to me” stood out, worth finding in the usual places if you are unfamiliar with their music. They certainly warmed up the crowd and their set ended with a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “You Can Go Your Own Way. It was over all too soon to enthusiastic applause from the crowd.
Bang on 9pm Brandy Clark walked onto the stage and had us all in the palm of her hand with the first song she sang. It was “Hold my hand” One of my favourites. She followed up with “Love can go to hell” and “Favourite lie” before explaining to us all that she wanted to take us on a roller coaster ride of emotion. She intended to make us laugh, then cry before making us laugh until we cried again. Next up was “The Day she got divorced” from her “12 Stories” album. “Girl next door” from “Big Day in a Small Town” followed with much foot stomping, clapping and cheering from the crowd to the obvious pleasure of Brandy on the stage.
“Get high” and “Drinkin’ Smokin’ Cheatin” were next before “When I get to drinking.” Brandy called this the substance abuse part of the show and introduced the first of two excellent musicians backing her, Vanessa McGowan on upright bass.
We were then treated to “You’re drunk”, “Hungover” and “Three kids no husband” before Brandy mentioned that both albums had been nominated for Grammy Awards and she wanted to thank everyone for supporting her. “Big day in a small town”, the title track of the second album was next before Brandy talked a little more about song writing, saying that there are only seven kinds of song and seven might even be over stretching it. She made it clear that one of her personal favourite kinds is a good revenge song before giving us a great example in “Daughter” from the Big Day album. Karma’s a bi#*h apparently! After introducing Miles Aubrey, playing guitar, Brandy gave us “Stripes” before leaving the stage and leaving the crowd on our feet offering a standing ovation and calls for more.
As Brandy returned to the stage she gave us a brand new song called “Apologies” then “Pray to Jesus” from “12 Stories” and finally, the excellent show came to an end with another great song called “You can come over”
All in all, a perfect evening listening to an amazing artist, drinking tea and enjoying ice cream in the pews of a wonderful venue. Do we want to do it again….. Absolutely! Tomorrow, next week or whenever Brandy Clark wants to come back and give us more.