Wooden Arms, August & After, Milly Hirst – “Shindig” at St Philip’s Church Centre, Cambridge, 13 July 2013 review. Please take a look at Shindig’s own review here.
Having seen Wooden Arms the previous evening for their EP launch in the splendid Octagon Chapel in Norwich, I couldn’t quite resist the temptation to make the short trip to Cambridge to see them and Milly in another church setting.
On a sweltering day it was a thankfully short walk of 20 minutes or so from Cambridge station to the venue, although this seemed to be one of those more modern churches that absorb the heat from the sun during the day and release it all back again in the evening! I paid my entrance money and was given some ‘Heaven currency’ and immediately saw Milly and we chatted for a while before she opened the music for the evening. Performing here in candlelight, in front of an altar, stained glass windows and incense it was quite a setting, but best of all was the acoustics which really suited her voice. The echo during some of her soaring moments were beautifully spine-tingling. I really enjoyed hearing Milly perform a solo set in such a venue, and looking around the audience and seeing the faces I was clearly not alone in this. It’s been said before but she commands rapt attention with her stunning voice, and the stories of the songs themselves – two compelling attributes and she got the thunderous applause she deserved. The set itself included Book or a Film (gorgeous with a film montage playing on the screens), You are Lovely, Kampala Road and closing number Rose was majestic.
August & After are a very interesting folk band, delicate bass, beautiful guitar and vocals and some gorgeous violin from a girl so perfect for the role, and so petite that she looks like she has just risen from a music box. Lovely. Some of the tracks put me in mind of Nick Drake but this is a band with their own sound and I will investigate more of it. Played alongside a slideshow of artistic photography submitted by fans it was a delightful set of super harmonies and musicianship.
There was a short break before Wooden Arms, where we were encouraged to submit our dreams, and a gorilla wandered around the room, before Wooden Arms took to the stage at just after 10pm. Unfortunately the last train back to Norwich on a Saturday is 10:30pm but I was finding it very difficult to leave once Wooden Arms had started the set, so I caught just a bit of it before making a frantic dash to the station and made it onto the train with literally two minutes to spare. I did however catch enough to hear how wonderful they sounded here, featuring again Milly, Jeff, our own delightful violinist Jess, Alex of course, and stand-in cellist Fifi, for Fynn.
On some level I had forgotten it was a Saturday night, which meant I had the dubious pleasure of negotiating Prince of Wales Road at the height of ‘club night’ which is always illuminating but I just feel I stand out like a sore thumb in such scenarios. Interestingly, as I was approaching Bank Plain a homeless girl in a doorway, close to my age said something like “Thank you for noticing me” in my direction as I was walking close by. I could not fail to, hers was about the only benign, sober face I saw in that far from pleasant ten minute walk. We had a really good and long conversation about nights like these near Prince of Wales Road, and the awful stories of how she is shouted out and worse by the clubby revellers. I’m so glad I don’t have to negotiate that road too often at night but it was actually a very pleasant chat and a great positive from a walk I don’t usually enjoy, and a nice end to another fabulous day hearing some of my favourite artists.
words and photos by richard shashamane 2013