I had been looking forward to this concert since first it was announced. I had never seen Faye Rogers before, but had heard good things about her songs. I had seen Colour the Atlas a few times, Jen Olive, as often as I can, and Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo, just once. I knew it was going to be a great concert, and in aid of a very good cause, too.
I arrived early so I could sit fairly close to the front so I could have a good view. Both the front pews were empty, but I chose not to sit in them. Habit really, a trick I learned decades ago because…. but no, that’s another story. Christ Church is not as old as some, but it has its own history, a fact that is evident as soon as you enter. Long since, has the church just been seen as a place for worship, and for christenings, marriages, and funerals! I had gone with a relative, and as we chose our seats, I made sure the person in front of me wouldn’t block my view. There were helpers from the church and from the charity. There were a few local musicians lending a hand, too. The atmosphere was of joyful expectation, and the audience was many and varied. There were little children and persons of all ages, right up to my own.
When it came time to begin the concert, Marie Lennon stepped up to the mic. Oh yes, this was a proper music concert, with amps and everything! It had been advertised as candle-lit, and so it was, there were candles everywhere. There were also fairy lights adorning the front of the “stage”, and around the mic stand. Most of the effect was lost for the time being as light was streaming in through the stained glass windows. Marie was visibly shaken by the number of people now seated in front of her. I don’t know how many she had expected. I don’t know how many had pre-booked. She sounded so happy as she thanked everyone for attending and spoke of the charity. She then looked around for the first act, whilst announcing the name of Faye Rogers. Slowly, the young lady seated immediately in front of me, stood up, walked down the aisle, and onto the stage.
Faye is a singer/songwriter who performs standing, whilst playing guitar. She sings with a clear crisp voice. Her voice full of emotion, singing songs of love and emotion. Young love, new love. Not for the last time that evening, a singer thanked the audience for the applause. What a revelation Faye was. She held the audience with wonderful songs and in the manner of their delivery. Her Soundcloud name is fayelaura7. Go and listen for yourself.
Jess Hall is the singer in the band “Colour the Atlas”. Her three male colleagues play guitar, keyboard, and drums. During the performance I smiled, not only because I was enjoying the wonderful singing of Jess, but at the restraint from the band. I have seen them play much louder in venues. They seemed at half volume befitting the surroundings. Oh, what a marvellous evening. So musical. So moody. So good.
At the beginning of the evening, Marie had announced that there were four acts. Three local, and Emily Barker. This simple sentence had put me in the right frame of mind for the evening. Yes indeed, Emily is an Australian. That means that Jen Olive from Albuquerque is now a Swindon local. Yes she is currently living here, and I believe she would like to, permanently, and that would suit me very well. Why, well I have been in love with Jen Olive’s music for a number of years now, and attend her gigs when I can. Jen is fun. Her music is fun. It is complicated. It is quirky. It has strange time signatures, and she sings with a verve that few will ever be able to match. As Jen started her set, darkness descended outside. We now sat through the evening in candle light. The temperature too dropped. It all added to the sense of occasion. For the first half of her set, she sang and played her guitar, alone. She sat facing the audience. She too thanked them for their applause. She explained to those that didn’t already know, her delight in Swindon’s music scene. Not many musicians could keep up with her deliciously strange and beautiful rhythms, but Stu Rowe, can. For the second half of her set, Stu played bass guitar with her. Jen and Stu were playing together for the first time in three years. I was on my own Cloud 9.
Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo are not from around these parts. That meant they had to travel here to give of their time and their talent. They did this for the charity. They did this, as all the acts did, for the sake of others. They announced that the following night they had a gig in Manchester. Did they stint their performance because of this? No, of course not. They played a blinder. Emily Barker, together with the three ladies who make up her band, gave a superb performance. Emily played guitar whilst singing. Her band played violin/viola, accordion, and cello. What an all encompassing warm and delightful sound. What an evening. At the end, Emily asked the other acts back on stage for a finale. Refuge has captured this moment in a photograph. Faye, Jess, Emily flanked by two of her band, and Jen. There was clapping, some cheering, and a few even stood.
This had been an evening to savour. Refreshments had been complimentary. At the end, there was still wine left over, and people were asked to finish it. I had been looking forward to the evening very much, and it had excelled my expectations. Thank you one and all. I do so hope that lots of money was raised for the Women’s Refuge.