A holy performance at London’s Union Chapel
Adrianne Lenker will soothe your soul, believe me.
Arriving at London's Union Chapel, a working church, award-winning music venue and community centre for those who find themselves homeless, I'm immediately struck by the venue's beauty – and its acoustics.
Lenker's support act for the evening, the Boston-born artist Squirrel Flower, (aka Ella Williams) is already on stage as we make our way inside.
Tip-toeing our way through the raised pews to the bar at the back of the building (for a soft drink, honest) we catch a glimpse of Squirrel Flower as she's finishing her set – the crowd's applause ripples through the building as the stage lights turn deep purple.
"It's bloody gorgeous in here!" I whisper to my girlfriend a little awestruck. I'd been meaning to get to a gig here for months; thankfully Lenker provided the perfect excuse.
After spending the interval in the bar and catching up on each other's days (as we've both arrived post-office) a voice comes over the tannoy to announce Lenker's set.
Finishing our drinks, we follow the crowds out into the church hall – and the pews are immediately packed to the rafters. Somehow we manage to score a great spot upstairs, and we settle in (and scrunch up) as the lights are turned low.
— London Union Chapel (@UnionChapelUK) January 15, 2019
The softly-spoken Lenker soon appears on the stage, dressed casually in a sweater and jeans – acoustic guitar in one hand, cup of tea in the other (I like her already). From afar she appears androgynous.
I'd only begun listening to the Big Thief singer's solo stuff after latest album, abysskiss, was released at the end of 2018 with lead single, Symbol, receiving much airtime on BBC Radio 6 Music (my radio station of choice).
Hearing Symbol live was a treat. Lenker's performance style is wonderfully stripped back, sincere and – after a long day at work – incredibly soothing.
Her vocals are breathy and her finger-picked riffs really quite lovely – she stops, often for an usually long period of time, to tune her guitar between each track.
The audience simply waits patiently, enamoured by her child-like charm. (At least two audience members sitting near us whispered, "She's so cute" during the set).
With stained glass window above her and gently flickering candles lining the balconies to both sides of the stage, Lenker's performance is sermon-like; and one that insists you forget the hustle-and-bustle of the busy city waiting for us all outside.
Exploring themes of both love and tenderness side-by-side with those of trauma and death – if you're looking to soothe that busy soul of yours, this dreamy, thoughtful artist is one to watch.
Catch Adrianne – she returns to the US all-too-soon – on her current European tour now. Tickets available here.
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