September 12, 2018
St. Pancras Old Church, London
“Let’s not get into the semantics of emo”
After a thorough warm up by three artists, Non Canon came on also offering yet more value for money. Instead of Barry Dolan’s usual solo incarnation, he was joined by Chris Thorpe-Tracey (formerly Chris T-T) on piano, plus a drummer, bassist *and* string section.
As the performance was in a church, each musician was challenged to play either the most holy or unholy chord or sequence of notes they could think of. The bassist played the Devil’s Interval and the response was immediate – the church bells rang! For his part, Dolan tried to play holy and failed. Not for the first time, probably!
That wasn’t the most ominous portion of the set. That was reserved for a warning against the threat of the film Home Alone 3. If spotted in any form you should hide, call the police and inform your MP. The Non Canon song of the same name is harmless, luckily for the church crowd.
Study in Emerald with full band had a 50s rock n roll undertone with an Idlewild melody and the voice of, well, Barry Dolan.
The Idlewild part became clearer when he introduced Crayola as a song about 90s indie rock. That drew a much bigger cheer than when he said it was also about love. Always the way, apparently. That’s because love fades but 90s indie rock is forever!
Crayola had the cadence of a Pulp song here with strings injecting discordance and the crowd chanting as one about being “90s indie kids at heart.”
Non Canon’s downtuned delivery wouldn’t be to everyone’s taste but Dolan had one up on any potential dissenters. He was his own worst critic: “it doesn’t even have an lyrics. Lazy!” This turned out to be about a song he’d written age 16 and then had shied away from for the next 17 years; 1999 in Roman numerals. Quite stage on which to embrace piece that was alternately beautiful and doom-laden.
A concert following the tracklisting of the album led to an auction of the record that had both figuratively and literally become the night’s setlist, raising £50 for Safe Gig’s For Women.
The highlight of the set was undoubtedly everyone chanting “I’m not admitting defeat, I am defying it.” As moving as you can get at a post-punk, indie, Drop-D, acoustic gig.
As Non Canon pointed out (again his own harshest critic), you’d think such a cathartic experience would have closed the show. No, because that’s not how the album goes!
Non Canon by Non Canon is available from the XtraMile online shop. You can also catch Dolan’s band Oxygen Thief at The Monarch in London on November 14, 2018, for free!
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