John Smith at St Pancras Old Church
Who knew churches could host secular music concerts and even let their spectators drink beer during the show? That’s what happened on Thursday at St Pancras Old Church, but no sacrilegious scenes were involved. The unusual location was the selected setting for John Smith, who performed his soulful songs in front of a small, absorbed crowd.
The artist, accompanied by a double-bass player, awed the public with his quavering, whispering voice and mellow tunes which really suited the echoing acoustics of the venue. The audience enjoyed the gig, listening in a religious silence, timidly but warmly hailing Smith who, in return, expressed his surprise at how quiet everyone was.
Exception made for due applause after each track, the musician had to encourage a more active engagement a couple of times and eventually, during To Have So Many, a few murmuring voices started joining him in building up a gentle chorus.
For an hour and a half, Smith played a mix of oldies and new songs from his forthcoming album Great Lakes, including Town to Town where the use of a slide suggests contaminations from the country genre, and There Is A Stone, initially disturbed by the artist’s phone (quietly) ringing. The performance of Invisible Boy was also joined by the sound of the bells striking the hour, but Smith and his colleague continued playing, keeping concentration through the distraction of some audience members.
Especially interesting was the cover of Terence Trent D’Arby’s Sign Your Name and Smith’s ability to make the best out of his guitar in many uncommon ways, even putting it on his legs and picking the cords as if playing a harp and tapping to ease in the rhythm.
The performance was delicate and engaging, even if the venue at times seemed to engulf him.
Photos: Bart Odias
Great Lakes is released on 25th March 2013. For further information, click here.
Watch a live performance for Town to Town here