May 27, 2016
Union Chapel, London
With nothing more than a”Hey y’all,” John Moreland launched into a spellbinding set at London’s Union Chapel. Simple staging allowed the audience to focus on the depth and colour of Moreland’s achingly beautiful lyrics.
As is so often the case, praise must be given to Union Chapel’s resident expert, Les Mommsen, who mixed Moreland’s natural talent, the chapel’s natural acoustics and his own technical wizardry to produce crystal-clear sound.
As Moreland was wrapped up in his performance, the crowd was rapt in quiet appreciation. Other than thunderous applause after each cut, the silence was broken only by hollers of joy as Moreland played Heart’s Too Heavy and I Need You To Tell Me Who I Am, when fans recognised subtle flourishes in the guitar work. Unsurprisingly, Moreland’s calm presence and musical excellence inspires great passion.
The stand-out track of the night was You Don’t Care Enough For Me To Cry. Moreland’s voice hovered on the verge of cracking as he dissected the end of a relationship, detailing deep heartbreak interspersed with fleeting, unwarranted hope.
Another highlight was Nobody Gives A Damn About Songs Anymore. The reaction of fans old and new to Moreland’s powerful set proved, irrefutably, that songs still mean everything to some of us.
Support came from Zach Torres, a soft-spoken Texan now living in Nashville. A late addition to the bill, Torres effortlessly delivered songs like Magnolia and Jane on a borrowed guitar with a hint of a country lilt, as if playing on a back porch during a Southern sunset.
The reality is likely closer to noisy Southern bars as, through force of habit, Torres implored the audience to listen to the songs. There was no need for the reminder; the beautiful sound, together with the interplay of dry ice and laser spotlights, held the crowd’s attention throughout.
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