Jonathan Wilson at Village Underground
There is something to be said for a genuinely unique intimate London venue: Shoreditch’s Village Underground can definitely boast of having these two sought-after qualities. The huge stone walls and deep narrow audience space make the arena an almost intimidating challenge, and last night it was Jonathan Wilson’s stage to attempt to conquer.
An almost concerning hush fell over the Shoreditch audience before Wilson stepped out, as if there was an acceptance that the night would be a mellow experience, with head nodding far more appropriate than circle pitting. As the man himself emerged, in full dandy attire, the reception was partially muted, though the tall echoey walls made sure the live sound was boosted to its full potentia, filling any crowd silence.
Wilson is an artist who thrives on the instrumental sections of his tracks as the progressive style allows him to steadily build rich songs, and this skill was fascinating to see on the night. Playing in a four-piece band gave the artist a butched-up live presence and helped the indie rock/pop element bellow out, ever more harmonically tight. Vocally a slight mismatch was produced as Wilson’s singing couldn’t quite reach the impressive level of the instrumental sections; although musically the frontman did hit the right notes, the style did become slightly monotonous and fell flat in parts. The music was allowed to breathe, though, throughout the set as there was very little time allowed for any kind of intimate crowd interaction, apart from the occasional “thank you!” from the focused solo artist. Visually the show was stripped back to the bare bones: ambiance was set through the impressive venue, as opposed to any kind of flashy stage show.
Despite the slightly subdued crowd the gig did prove to be an interesting musical spectacle. While Wilson may struggle somewhat with his onstage band presence, he has proved that instrumentally he can summon up a heavy-hitting melodic showcase that can truly flourish in the right acoustic environment.
Photos: Melissa Harper
For further information and future events visit Jonathan Wilson’s website here.
Watch the video for Dear Friend here: