Cherry Ghost appeared at The Trades back in 2015 as part of the Heavenly weekender. It‘s been a long wait to see them again, especially with Covid causing a couple of frustrating delays. But here we are, on the final night of Independent Venue Week, with Simon Aldred and – for this gig – Christian Madden on keyboards, making up another iteration of Cherry Ghost.
The audience, as last time, had come from far and wide to pay homage and the music room at The Trades was certainly fizzing with expectation. Cherry Ghost have accumulated a huge and loyal fan base, despite remaining a tad under the radar. And Simon appeared to have some family members in the crowd too for this momentous occasion.
Without much ado, Simon and Christian launched straight into their set, comprising songs from Cherry Ghost‘s three albums. Christian is working on the Brits and he‘s come up from London especially for tonight‘s show. Simon and Christian have worked together and there‘s an easy communication between the two that translates to a finely-tuned delicacy with the instrumentation – and these songs stand up just as well when presented in such a stripped-back fashion.
Simon admits that he wasn’t sure he could remember his lyrics. There had been a frantic download of lyric sheets during the afternoon, during which it was unclear if The Trades‘ printer would withstand the task – we all know tech failures happen at the worst of moments. However all ran smoothly and Simon even laughs about the music stand during the performance.
In fact it would be hard to tell that Simon had not played this material for such a long time. His vocals were as steady and as comforting as ever. Actually make a correction there, I think his voice is in better form than the previous time I’d seen him. His voice seems a little deeper with more resonance, although reassuringly still with that world-weary quality that suits the lyrics so well. Simon’s tales of life‘s quandaries and anxieties that beset us all on a daily basis, fights outside the pub, late buses home, occasional sinister goings on… this is the stuff of Cherry Ghost‘s narrative.
There is a momentary lift of the heart when Simon admits that he‘d been reluctant to play as there is no new material to showcase. I don‘t imagine I was the only one in the room to assume this was a hint of something promising on the horizon. However, when speaking to him after the show he told me that is not his intention. Life has taken him in another direction, with collaborations on projects and time taken up with his family. Sentimentality about Cherry Ghost is reserved for the audience, Simon appears to have moved on.
So we are left with this gig to remind us of the singular talent and originality of Cherry Ghost. And new material notwithstanding, this was a delightful trawl through their three-album output. Sorrow opened, followed by the melancholy 4am, others included were Kissing Strangers, Thirst for Romance and, of course, People Help The People – with plenty of audience participation. Dead Man’s Suit sounded particularly poignant.
Somehow I feel that, despite all his projects and commitments, Simon may pop up one day for another erm… bite of the cherry. We can but hope.