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.

Christian Madden on stage

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.

Cher­ry Ghost / The Trades Club / Part of Inde­pen­dent Venue Week

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