15 July 2016 Live Reviews
Review date: 9th June 2016
Reviewed by: Carl Warren
Location: Union Chapel, Islington
Despite the fact that Jonathan Wilson’s Union Chapel gig was billed as solo acoustic, it was exciting to find the stage set out with chairs, music stands and a grand piano. It looked like we were in for something special and we were proved right. Wilson took to the stage along with a string quartet in what is the perfect setting for tonight’s show. Bathed in washes of light reflecting from the stained glass rose window and candle light a rather nervous looking Wilson set out his laid back stall stacked high with the best from the previous couple of albums.
Gentle Spirit, released in 2011 came about as a result of a series of jam sessions at his Laurel Canyon base and which summons up the spirit of the canyon in it’s heady days of love peace and understanding. The more recent and fascinating offering, Fanfare, featured contributions from David Crosby, Graham Nash and Jackson Browne. Wilson is also a highly regarded and talented producer working with the likes of Father John Misty, Deep Dark Woods, Dawes and Glen Cambell. Musicians are drawn to Wilson by his ability to provide a certain feel and sensitivity to their work and this is also what tonight was all about.
Strings accompanied the initial five numbers and Omar Velasco, a member of his touring band and tonight’s support, also joined Wilson for the majority of the set. Switching between acoustic and electric guitars Wilson weaved his way through the evening until the string quartet returned as he sat at the piano before introducing his old friend Roy Harper who’s wonderful presence and stunning rendition of January Man can still hush a venue and make the hair stand on end.
This celebration of Jonathan Wilson’s work was sometimes bordering on self indulgent but always endearing, borne out by the reaction of the near capacity, spell bound crowd.
So, after almost two hours of bathing in the warmth of this heartfelt, Merlot fuelled performance, we are back out into the frantic Islington night, a million miles from the mellow vibe of the canyons of California. Next time Jonathan!
Photo Credit: Carl Warren