A window opened briefly on a world we knew and which will come again. Being able to go to a gig – socially distanced though it was -– brought into sharp focus just what has been missing from life. It’s ultimately about the music but it’s everything else besides – the camaraderie that comes from being in a good crowd, meeting other music lovers, and just that euphoric feeling that carries you into the next week.

Actually Saturday’s performance was the second gig of that week. I saw Cromagnon at Islington Assembly Hall where the venue was trying out its Covid capabilities and it was a shame after all the effort made that it was not well attended.

In contrast, on Saturday Folklore in Hoxton was sold out and, being small or to use correct terminology, intimate, had a buzzy and welcoming vibe with plenty of candles dotted around and the stage decked out in a kind of Christmas-meets-festival style.

I was there to see Luca Wilding, who I’ve been a fan of since being drawn in by his dramatic summer single Heartachers. His EP called ‘To‘ was launched at the end of November.

For his opening number, he played Master, a song I’d only heard for the first time this week. It’s one that instantly draws you in, a beautiful and mesmerising track with a somewhat Latin feel and a great depth of emotion.

Wilding’s lyrics are always intriguing and Master is no exception. With his songs there is the feeling of being dropped into the middle of a complicated – and often painful – narrative. Similarly Ruby, Don’t Cry, a song that found its inspiration from a brief meeting with a woman on a train, creates a powerful, visual image.

On stage, Luca is an engaging, natural and relaxed performer although he admitted he had felt nervous as this was his first live gig for two years. I just hope we can see Wilding and others on festival and venue stages next year.

Wassailer took to the stage next with his band – they’re an urban folk collective from South-East London, with two trumpet players. With soulful vocals, their material is a joyful mix of genres. The set became more vibrant as it gathered pace and it was difficult to resist the urge to get up and dance. Especially during ‘Settlement‘ which contained one of those slinky bass lines designed to get you moving.

Wassailer have a new album out called i, the bastard which they suggest would make a fine Christmas present. It would also make a great party soundtrack – if you’re allowed to have one.

Folklore, Hackney Road.
Luca Wilding

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