April 29, 1997
Union Chapel, North London

Photos by Mark Selley. Review by Thomas N.

Ali Union Chapel, North London - This review stuff is not easy when you're a friend and should really be left to you people who are better at it, but last night had some peculiarities about it encouraging me to come up with something. Besides, it's early morning and I need brekkie. Another reason I shouldn't write music reviews ? Well, there was just an excerpt of some awards show on the radio. I thought I heard Miss Piggy singing. It was Diana Ross. So...... I was right after all ;-)

Islington's Union Chapel is just that. A Chapel. A Church. In a peculiar way, it melts into a long row of buildings and the exterior is not that impressive. Once inside, it's another story. A nice, simple, several centuries old small church not spoiled by any pompous religious grandeur. The event itself was rather peculiar as it was part of the (corporate sponsors name deleted) London Music Week festival. The audience consisted mostly of Cranes fans, but one couldn't help noticing all these other characters with dangling passes and a copy of Billboard and a notepad in their hands.

As I walked in with Mark, we heard the roadies drop something on the stage, followed by a nearly 5 second reverb. "Ooohh shit", was the first response. This was followed by another surprise. The backline hadn't arrived yet, although it left Portsmouth 3 hours before the band did. Touring is wonderful, innit ? Anyway, setup and soundcheck commenced and I had a chance to have a great chat with support band Silkscreen, who are newly signed to Dedicated. Very friendly lot, this trio is based in Amsterdam. Somehow this mixture of 2 Dutch and one Italian reminded me of how interesting it is living within a group of countries where you can get a band together and members contributing their own unique cultural personalities. A uniqueness that too easily gets lost on most of Brits I know. Recent press had described Silkscreen as a mellower Nirvana, which certainly did not apply tonight. I can't really review their songs as I've not heard any of the material before and as an engineer usually concentrate on other aspects of performances. I'll leave that to you Journos covering the other dates. However, they played well and I'm sure will receive a warm reception on the remainder of the European tour.

Cranes played a nicer mixture of new/old material than at the Kings College gig earlier this year as well as musically performing very well last night. Tim, their soundman, did an excellent job blending the sound against the Chapel's reverberant character. We were told of horror stories by other engineers who've mixed at this venue, but his experience certainly came through last night and, in the words of Agent Cooper, sounded damn fine. Well worth his 6-pack of beer in wages ;-)

Unfortunately it was a shorter gig than usual and maybe 4 more selections would have really perfected the evening. But that's regulations for you. As a Venue the Union Chapel is appropriate for previously booked acts such as Dead Can Dance and would have been perfect for Cranes first album performances. They would have preferred a more open spaced venue for this gig, but I thought it was rather nice for once to sit down (on very hard wood benches *ouch*) and really just absorb the performance. I liked it. It may not have been the usual venue where we get to bounce around, be drunk and silly and enjoy Cranes as the fun band they can be. Last night was a "sit down and enjoy" event. And enjoyable it certainly was. The most peculiar things about last night ? I definitely saw a Nun strolling along the sides and I'm sure I heard Mummy Shaw somewhere in the crowd cursing about the bar and the no smoking policy........

Good luck on the rest of the tour and see ya when ya get back.

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