BILL LAURANCE PROJECT | London, Union Chapel

I don’t think I’ve ever experienced a pre-show buzz quite like the one I experienced on Saturday at the Union Chapel. Doors opened just after seven, and by the time we got in at eight, the chapel was brimming with excitement.

Bill walked on to rapturous applause, and seemed genuinely surprised by how excited we were to see him. I could see most of the audience from my balcony seat, and every single face was beaming. These were people who were ecstatic to just be in the same room as him. Instead of sitting down at one of the seven keyboards on offer, he casually walked behind the altar to the organ and treated us to an overture to the rest of the concert. Joining him on stage was Michael League on bass and Robert ‘Sput’ Searight on drums. As if this wasn’t talent enough, this was bolstered by a string section which gave the whole performance a really unique sound — and Katie Christie on French Horn had one of the purest tones I’ve ever heard. “The Isles”, the final track on his latest album, was probably one of the most beautiful moments of the evening, and those major sevenths will stay with me for a very long time.

Bill, Mike and Sput were clearly having the time of their lives, with a camaraderie that shone through in their music, and each of them repeatedly caused my jaw to hit the floor. Bill seems to get completely lost in the sound as he stares toward the ceiling during his solos, and Mike has a fantastic habit of dancing and almost jumping around during his. I wish I could experience them again.

As for Felix Higginbottom, his wide array of bells, cymbals and saucepans gave the music an almost cinematic atmosphere that I imagine most members of the audience didn’t even notice until he was mentioned at the end. He was a real asset to the ensemble and the true unsung hero of the evening, with subtle contributions that always took the groove to the next level.

The tour still has a few nights left in the UK, so if there’s a gig near you, cancel everything and go. Seriously.

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