Photos: Maren Farra
For more photos from the gig visit: marenfarra.com
Review by Clare Knight
17/02/14 Union Chapel, Islington
There is always something grand about walking into Union Chapel in Islington. The working church is an award winning venue and works particularly in the favour of acoustic or small piece bands. Finding a pew to sit in is easy enough, finding one where the sound is perfect with a good view is a little harder. Upon finding our spot we saw countless people wander by holding mugs of tea. It is something I am likely to notice and something that adds to the homely and intimate feel of Union Chapel as a venue.
The stage was all set up and ready to go, so right on time the support act for Ry X appeared on stage to a warm welcome. Rhosyn rocked up to the stage, picked up her cello and sat down, soaking in the atmosphere of the venue. Union Chapel, although not enforced, is usually a ‘listening venue’ and the audience were very attentive to both artists throughout. It was a gig where everyone fully appreciated the talented musicians on stage. I love anything unexpected and Rhosyn provided that in bucket loads. Her unique style of dramatically ethereal cello led songs were outstanding as she layered up cello parts and vocal parts with a loop pedal. She was a great opener for the evening and proof that you should always get to gigs in time for the support act.
After a short break (and a big tea break for the crowd) Ry X and his two other band members took to the stage to dimmed lighting, lit candles and a hushed audience. The Australian was dressed in all black and then the atmospheric start to ‘Shortline‘ began. The whole evening was a captivating blend of ethereal and melancholy music with dark undertones throughout. His performance on stage makes you watch his every move intently and although some may say that his songs all sound very similar, I think it’s the whole package that sells it. Ry X is beguiling to watch when he performs live.
Of course, it was no surprise that ‘Berlin‘ was the most popular song in the set and received rapturous applause and cheers. He mentioned that he has spent a fair amount of time in Berlin and that the city has a special place in his heart. Ry X explained that it was a personal song that he wrote for himself but it found its way out into the world and has become something much bigger than he ever thought it would. His overwhelmed and humbled reaction to the applause was definitely heartwarming.
This was only the second gig of the UK tour and the second time the trio of multi-talented musicians had played together live. They were slick, polished and relaxed in the performance and will no doubt be even more impressive by the end of the tour. Ry X comes across as a very humble person with a quiet speaking voice to match his singing style. He isn’t one to introduce songs with funny anecdotes, but that resulted in smooth transitions between tracks, which added to the mellow atmosphere.
‘Howling‘ was another popular song with the audience and was received almost as well as Berlin. When cheered back onto the stage for an encore he said, “I don’t usually do encores and I’ve already played Berlin and Howling so…” but that didn’t put him off as he mentioned that it had been one of his favourite gigs. Just to rub it in, the audience demanded a second encore so out he came for one last track responding with, “I really don’t have anymore songs after this!”
The final track called ‘Ghosts‘ was written by the keyboardist/drummer and had intricately stunning lyrics. It saw Ry X performing with no instrument in hand, which showed off his vocal talent beautifully. It was the perfect setting for Ry X to perform in and one that I think might be a highlight of this tour.