Facebook R&B crooner Mario has been relatively quiet on the music front for…
- Posted on Apr 22nd 2010 6:15AM by Barnaby Smith
Come to see: Built in 1887, this Gothic church in the heart of Islington, North London, began putting on concerts in 1991, as part of an initiative to bring in people other than worshippers.
Though still often thought of as best-suited for acts with a bent towards folk -- standout shows in the past year came from Ben Kweller, Andrew Bird, Fairport Convention and Shearwater -- the Union Chapel has proven itself capable of hosting many other styles over the years, with Razorlight, the Killers and Tina Dico bringing pop here, and the likes of Vladislav Delay, Digitonal and Max Richter all passing through in the name of electronica. Just don't expect violent death-metal here just yet.
Arguably, the Union Chapel's gig highpoint was a pair of shows from Bjork back in December 1999, universally regarded as two of her best ever gigs.
The Atmosphere: The Union Chapel isn't really all that old, but nevertheless, one feels moved to a state of hushed reverence whenever acoustic acts play here, which is a lot. The sublime auditorium acoustics also help maintain a mood of reflection rather than exuberance, helped by the domed ceiling that gigs and services take place beneath. Dim lights and a stage politely poised in front of the altar add to the mix, but the most influential factor on the mellow atmosphere is the fact that out of respect for the church, alcohol cannot be taken inside. A cup of tea is as strong as it gets.
You saw them here first: Most bands and artists regard it as a privilege and a sign of critical and commercial respect to get a gig at the Union Chapel. If an act can stand up to the nakedness and formality of this venue, then they must have a certain gravitas. Therefore, the Chapel is not really a breeding ground for new artists. That said, they do open up the place to young talent, and in a few years anyone who was at recent shows here from First Aid Kit or Johnny Flynn or Soap & Skin may brag "I saw them back when."
Claim to Fame: Scenes from 1982 British thriller 'Who Dares Wins' were shot in the Union Chapel. The film starred Lewis Collins, Judy Davis and Edward Woodward and features a fight at a rock concert shot inside the Union Chapel auditorium.
You Should Also Know: Despite its excellent reputation for music (it won Best Live Music Venue 2009 at the Smooth Radio Love London awards and is up for the gong again this year), let's not forget that the Union Chapel remains a house of God, with regular services both on Sundays and midweek.
Booking Now: British Sea Power, CocoRosie, The Unthanks, Micah P. Hinson