Even the church’s priest assisted the event and the three artists on the bill playing for charity in the iconic venue of St John-at-Hackney Church when, on Sunday 25th November, with music matriarch and curator Jo Whiley presenting the event, Swedish singer songwriter Karin Park took the stage and opened with a magical, psychedelic and truly unforgettable set the Mencap’s Little Noise Sessions: the perfect start of what was surely to be a fantastic night.
Karin Park gave us all that she had. The Swedish-born beauty, supermodel in stature, sang with an honest conviction that’s rarely found anymore. With her unique sound, catchy lyrics and eye-popping asymmetrical dress, she made the stage her own and revelled in the attention.
Speaking to the crowd between songs, Karin talked openly of living outside of normal and how we can all find comfort there. To go first after flying in especially from Montenegro that morning, and still give such a faultless performance coupled with her ability to play an array of instruments, and the surprise introduction of an eight-piece female orchestra, the talented artist – she deserves all the praise we can give her – genuinely left the crowd begging for more.
Karin Park is the Robyn Robyn wanted to be, a Björk with a baseline and definitely one to watch for the future, perhaps headlining her own show.
Host Jo Whiley stepped out and spoke of a slight mix-up: Keane would not be playing. A sea of disappointed faces stared back, awaiting her next move. “Put you hands together”, she shouted, ” for Newton Faulkner!”
Disbelief, shock and delight filled the church as the bearded icon appeared centre stage. Delighting the crowd as always, Faulkner told of his morning spent on a ladder holding a drill, when he received a phone call asking him to come along. A crowd has never been more thankful.
If Karin Park hadn’t glued the public already, Newton Faulkner fixed us to the floor with his shaggy laddish charm and unquestionable talent. Effortless, surreal and almost too good to watch, Faulkner showed all just why we know his name. A true master of his craft, he gave the fans an impromptu cocktail of living-room humour and songs from his well-known catalogue. Dream Catch Me brought magic in the air, while his refreshing rendition of Massive Attack classic Teardrops lit the fire. Giving the fans the best of a surprise slot at a charity gig, he took us further from the sodden (and freezing, I might add) night and into a place fans can’t go on their own.
Then, the agitation surrounding Amy Macdonald was undeniable. Whispers amongst the audience spoke openly of excitement and longing to see what she’d changed in her recent break from the music scene. A longing it was clear not everyone shared, but something was about to happen. The Mr Rock and Roll singer jumped right in to her set with a loud strum of her guitar. The twenty five years old Scottish beauty had evolved: Macdonald’s music gave the crowd a scoop of whipped country, a sprinkling of folk and a handful of something not quite new entirely.
There was a question in particular written across the face of a number of spectators: “Has she changed that much at all?” Amy proved that some artists can only work within a certain realm and fear to step away from it, even slightly.
Without doubt, she is an amazing, convincing and fearless singer with lungs like you couldn’t believe, but her longevity and relevance in today’s music world comes into question: she plays a little too safe to compete with the rise of new artists and new sounds.
Highlights of her set the unforgettable renditions of This Is The Life, Poison Prince and Mr Rock and Roll.
Photos: Laramie Shubber
Little Noise Sessions is a Mencap charity event. All artists and host Jo Whiley performed for free, and 100% of all proceeds (including the beer) went to charity to help those in need. For further information click here.