[Music from ] The Penguin Cafe [Orchestra]/The Coal Porters – Union Chapel (16 February 2014)

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I really should’ve known. Doing two gigs back-to-back on a Sunday was gonna get messy. By the time I met my companion for this I’d already had to down both our drinks as he couldn’t get into the pub because he didn’t have ticket to the local football match (no-one asked me for one). Then it turns out that the Union Chapel (fast becoming one of my favourite venues) serves Old Peculiar. By the time The Coal Porters finish their set we most definitely have a “buzz on”.

And, a beautiful set it is. The small bar/cafe venue in the chapel means we get the band as near to fully unplugged as they can be. One mic. This band are a perfect storm. It’s great testament to their skill and charm in the performance and the writing that they never feel like revivalists. They touch something primeval, that’s been there for the centuries. They’re not just nostalgic of it.

With a few hours to kill we head off in search of a Sunday lunch. More beers are partaken. Perhaps a few too many.

The Penguin Cafe are also a band not to be simply dismissed as a retro/tribute act. Not only is there a repertoire that deserves to promenaded as much as any 20th century composer, but the passed-hat of new compositions.

The main hall of the venue, providing an excellent (if not perfect – that’d be the titular bistro) venue for the fragile Bohemian chamber pieces that they specialise in. And, they are stunning. Being softened up by the earlier gig, this seems to reach inside and realign my mitochondria. All is well with the world.

Be warned, though. This is the kind of gig you get asked outside or talking through. And, no, not by me.

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Written by Tony Kiernan

17 February 2014 at 11:34 am

Posted in Gigs, London, Music

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