A Magic Moment to Be Forever Lost in Time
Great gigs live in popular memory because sometimes a live recording is released. On other occasions a couple of journalists may concur in their write-ups and so the event passes into history as a most notable occasion; fans who weren’t there perhaps sighing “If only, if only…”
Most great gigs just disappear into history, remembered by those in attendance and maybe the performers as a special night. And so Frazey Ford’s gig at the Union Chapel in north London, last Tuesday, will also disappear, remembered by the 800-odd people there and maybe anyone reading this as a great performance.
For this was one of the very best gigs I’ve been to in over 40 years of gig going, since I went to see Traffic in Liverpool, back in 1972. There have been other splendid nights in those years, and this is up there with the best of them.
I came to Frazey about this time last year when the title track of her album, Indian Ocean, was posted to the (now sadly defunct) This Is My Jam website. I was instantly beguiled and very soon bought that album and its predecessor, Obadiah.
Frazey took to the stage in a black, sequin covered jumpsuit, with a contrasting saffron hat and veil. Like many artists who have played at the Union Chapel, she loves the venue; it looks very impressive and the acoustics are excellent (Frazey on stage at the Union Chapel) and this no doubt helps.
She works her way through the two albums – Firecracker, Bird Of Paradise and Done (“a bitch song” that isn’t gender specific, so men can use it too, she says) are early highlights.
But it continues with songs like Runnin’ and You’re Not Free adding to the continuing beauty. She also included Otis Redding and Anne Peebles covers as well as Dylan’s One More Cup Of Coffee. It is a continuum of entrancement.
She has a fantastic band with her. Slightly unusual line-up of guitar/bass/drums with a two piece horn section (trumpet and tenor sax) and a harmony singer. I wasn’t taking notes so can’t recall their names but all were brilliant, being totally sympatico with the harmony singer adding beautiful embellishments.
The sound she creates is absolutely gorgeous. While her style of slurring words, one into the other, could render the lyrics almost pointless, they do have meaning, but the way syllables merge simply serves to create a bewitching aural texture. The whole thing incredibly beautiful and extremely moving but show closer, Indian Ocean, will remain with me as one of the most transcendent musical moments of my life. A mellifluous warm sound enveloped us and transported us thousands of miles from noisy, grimy London to a beach with talcum powder soft sand on the edge of a warm sea. Time seemed to stop for a few minutes then suddenly it was over.
A huge standing ovation accompanied Frazey and the band off stage. We wanted even more but the house lights brought us back to reality.
This gig will live with me for a long, long time. It’s going to be very unfair on other artists, for me to expect them to match this, but I fear so many are going to feel like a bit of a let down in comparison. But it is special nights like this that make concert going probably my favourite pastime and will keep me going back for me.
I’m going to see Over The Rhine for the very first time in a couple of weeks. Can they possibly achieve something similar? I wonder, I wonder…