Having previously enjoyed one of Never Fade Records‘ many regular monthly sessions, we were excited to attend their label showcase at Islington’s prestigious Union Chapel. The venue was undeniably impressive – a cavernous, haunting room that provided the perfect stage for the label to show off its impressive growing talents. The first to take the stage was Irish singer Hali.
Her tender, sincere falsetto voice filled the biblical venue with a palpable, deep atmosphere. Early in the night, her solo performance with the modest accompaniment of single, subtle instruments was both intimate and tender. Moving around the wide stage to take on different instruments, her track ‘Sake’ (played on a traditional Irish drum) was a welcome tempo-changer, which gave her voice full remit to guide the melody with strength and passion.
Next up was the previously-featured Sonny; albeit the first time Hidden Herd had the pleasure of catching him live. His opener and featured single ‘Princess‘ was a confident crowd pleaser, with his voice (often showing, subtle likenesses to Stevie Wonder) transcending his modest age of 17. This voice elevated to fill the prestigious venue’s every nook and cranny; a solid feat from such a young talent.
Feeling the warmth in the room growing throughout the night, Callum Beattie then graced the stage with the first two-person setup of the night. Their strong, pitch-perfect harmonies were both swelling and at times delicately close.
Each vocal melody was a tight hook with mass-appeal, tickling the earworms of every member of the audience, gently growing the tempo as the night went on. Within many tracks there was an underlying sense of sentimentality, often touching personal memories of those once loved, with the size of the venue only multiplying those emotions further.
Feeling the atmosphere in the room bubble, the audience were noticeably eager to see the many instruments across the stage come to life. With an eruption of applause, the stage filled with label founder Gabrielle Aplin, Hannah Grace, Hudson Taylor and a close-knit group of their friends. Their full-band setup bought the evening to a crescendo, culminating a show of steadily-growing volume and depth. Carrying a healthy dose of Americana, their country appeal nodded to other large bands such as Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros whilst keeping some of the honest sincerity of Alabama Shakes.
‘Be With the Ones You’re With‘ (the most intimate song of their set) was both beautiful and intricate; a hearty juxtaposition to their previous, layered sound. With the entire audience hanging on every note, it was incredibly melodic; the piano and violin amicably filled the room with warmth and sorrow at the same time.
In keeping with the season and notably-perfect choice of venue, the band amplified the mood with a handful of Christmas tracks from ‘Happy Xmas (War Is Over)’ to ‘Fairytale Of New York’, leaving little possibility of any audience members leaving the evening without fully embracing the winter holiday.
A noticeably emotional evening for both bands and audience members alike, the Never Fade roster (and its friends) showed a dynamic, eclectic evening of notable talent and pitch-perfect entertainment.