This weekend was my trip to London with Frank to see Ron Pope and Zach Berkman at Union Chapel. We stayed at the same hotel as last time, which was probably a mistake. Booking a hotel 2 tube stops from Wembley on the day that Blackpool are playing West Ham in what I assume was a big match was a bad idea, our hotel was full of noisy football fans. We also found out what a ‘non-premier’ room was like. Last time we wondered what made the room premier, but this time we didn’t get an upgrade and it was pretty obvious. The room was about half the size and the bathroom was rubbish! But it was only for one night, and the gig more than made up for it.
The gig was in a beautiful church in Islington called Union Chapel. It’s a proper working church during the day, and during the night it is used for gigs and shows. The stained glass with the setting sun was simply amazing. And being a church the acoustics were amazing.
I had seen tweets to say that Caggie Dunlop was going to be there, but she didn’t turn up. But that meant more Zach and Ron so I’m not going to complain. Zach kicked off the gig with his guitar, then played a few songs on the piano too. I love his albums, but he was wayyyy better live. I always love to feel the emotion in a song, and when Zach explained that he wrote Celia after seeing his Grandma hold her first Great Grandaughter just before she passed away made me listen a lot more closely to the words of the song. Amazing. He played a few songs I’d not heard of, and when I tweeted him after the show he told me about an old album that I’d not heard of, so that’s now playing on my iPod.
After Zach finished his set, it was over to Ron. I saw him a couple of times earlier this year when he played acoustic shows, but this time he was playing with a whole band. It was brilliant, especially when you consider that the band was put together by Ron’s tour manager and they’d never all played together until the day of the gig. When Ron was playing guitar, Zach played piano for him, and vice versa. Paul Hammer of the District also joined them for the show, which was pretty cool, especially when they all sung Somewhere in the Darkness as I wasn’t expecting any District songs.
The only bad part for me was that although we were in such a beautiful venue, other people clearly didn’t place quite as much importance on the fact that we were in a church. I know I’m not into fashion, but I really don’t want to see 15 year old girls wearing shorts so short that their butt is showing out the bottom. And definitely not when I’m sat in the pews of a church!
But by far the best part of the night was when Ron was about to play a song and said ‘hold on, I’ve got an idea’. He picked his phone up and started to call someone, which had us all a bit confused. It went to voicemail (typical!), and he left a message which said ‘Grandma, we’re about to play your song’. He held up the phone for everyone to say hi, then said ‘I love you‘ and hung up. He played Shoot out the Lights, then explained that he wrote the song when his Grandma had cancer and she asked him to write her a song. Luckily (and in Ron’s words), she ‘kicked cancer’s behind’. The phone call was really sweet, and you could tell that the song was quite hard for him to sing. The words of the song are so poignant now that I know why he wrote them:
We’ve been watching for a miracle
We’re praying for a sign
When the cure is made of poison then it’s hard to rest your eyes
If it’s time, Oh Lord
Shoot out the lights
Shoot out the lights
By far the best gig I’ve been to yet, even though it was a long weekend with a lot of driving – totally worth it!