Live Review

Veronica Falls, St. Leonard’s Church, London

As Roxanne sings in a voice so angelic it belongs in the church choir, we start to worry that gigs in the Barfly have now been ruined forever.

East London’s St. Leonard’s church may be more famous as the final resting place of many of the significant figures of Elizabethan and Shakespearean theatre, but it is no stranger to pop thrills. The video for Florence and the Machine’s ‘Drumming Song’ was filmed here, and more recently Serafina Steer recorded part of her ‘The Moths are Real’ record in its impressive confines. To that list we can add the fact that it is also the venue where Veronica Falls chose to christen their second album, the mesmeric ‘Waiting for Something to Happen’ with a sold out gig in front of fans and friends alike.

Although gigs in churches are becoming more and more commonplace, they can be strange affairs. The surroundings are inevitably more inspiring than your local indie nightclub, but certain things you take for granted (like an actual stage, or a decent sound system, or - most importantly - a bar) are often missing, which can lead to a frustrating (and sober) evening. Thankfully the Marquee Moon guitar lines of ‘Tell Me’ are perfectly clear and the vocals of Roxanne Clifford and James Hoare combine quite beautifully. As on their new record, it’s a quite brilliant first track.

For ‘My Heart Beats’ and ‘Found Love in a Graveyard’ the band are alternatively silhouetted 20 meters tall on the chapel walls or bathed in the kind of kaleidoscopic lights last seen in a Velvet Underground video. It’s a wonderful spectacle and as Roxanne sings ‘bury me alive’ in a voice so angelic it belongs in the church choir, we start to worry that gigs in the Barfly have now been ruined forever. However, perhaps it is something to do with that pesky no alcohol rule, or our parents’ insistence that you don’t muck around in church, but the audience are quite subdued. Drummer Patrick Doyle urges the crowd to get up and dance but only a handful take him up on the offer and the majority stay rooted to their pews.

As the band encore with ‘If You Still Want Me’ and an extended ‘Come on Over’, before departing the stage to the sound of Blue Oyster Cult’s funeral classic ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’, we’d suggest that next time around they’ll need to book a cathedral.

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