Having arrived slightly late at the eagerly anticipated, and sold out, Final Fantasy/Owen Pallett Gig, finding a pew (which are remarkably uncomfortable, but rather lovely and twee), I was delighted to find that one of the mystery guests was Lightspeed Champion. A man with whom I’m not intimately familiar, but have heard many good things about, he struck an odd figure on stage, and was fantastic. He was a charming performer, who managed to hold almost all of the attention of the crowd, a somewhat rare feat for the first act any night. Closing with a great cover of ‘She’s Got The Devil In Her Eyes’, he was a definite success.
The next act, introduced by Owen Pallett himself, were Sam Amidon and Nico Muhly. They played mostly nice, clever folk songs on guitar and piano. For half the time at least they were rather compelling, and sounded somewhat ethereal. But then, however as much as I like watching a performer have a great time on stage, discordant violin accompanied by whaling (deliberately designed to be an unpleasant noise, begins to grate). They experienced problems, when a female guest singer, Beth Orton, was late to the stage, but they made the best of the problem claiming to be searching for a little voice. They were later joined by Owen himself on the violin, and ended their show very well.
As every other review of this gig will say, the Union Chapel is the perfect venue for Owen Pallett; even more so with how his new album sounds. Writing more personal intimate songs than ever before, the Union Chapel seemed like the perfect place for him to shine. From the moment he entered the stage and started playing it was clear that he was going to live up to expectations. Watching him create his loops is immensely compelling, and it’s fascinating to see the techniques he uses to create certain sounds, such as shouting in the mic within his violin, and moving away from the microphone. Joined onstage by Thomas Gill, who helped with percussion and guitar, Owen managed to make a massive sound. Personally I prefer watching him play alone on the stage, the songs seem more personal and impressive when you know that all of the sound is solely coming from him.
But, even requiring help, he is still an incredible performer. His violin tone is remarkable, playing ‘The Arctic Circle’ solely from the microphone, we got a taste of quite how good a violin player he actually is. Owen also has a great sense of humour, turning bad situations such as coughing in the middle of a song into a joke with the line “Can you imagine if that happened to Beyoncé? It would be the best thing ever.” His show peaked with the performance of the wonderful ‘Lewis Takes His Shirt Off’, a song that never fails to give me chills on record, performed live it was breath taking. Finishing with a one song encore Owen Pallett left a spellbound audience behind. Easily the best gig of the year so far, Owen is a must-see act.