The Day­light Music ses­sions at Union Chapel in Isling­ton are gen­tle, pay-what-you-like lunchtime con­certs with tea and cake. There are around 30 ses­sions per year. This Sat­ur­day was the turn of artists on the Lost Map record label run from the remote Hebridean island of Eigg by John­ny Lynch, who per­forms as Pic­tish Trail.

Lynch and team bound­ed onto the stage in match­ing black boil­er­suits, Lynch sport­ing a hip­ster gone wild beard and a touch of fes­tive glit­ter. His setlist includ­ed Dead Con­nec­tion from Future Echoes, upbeat with glo­ri­ous har­monies yet some­how with a mourn­ful touch.

Next was Alabaster dePlume, an enig­mat­ic per­former with dis­arm­ing humour, impec­ca­ble tim­ing and a mas­tery of dra­mat­ic silences. DePlume instills a feel­ing of ten­sion as you’re not quite sure where he’s going with a par­tic­u­lar idea, or what he’s going to do or say next. 

Lost map de plume be nice
“Be nice to peo­ple” exhorts dePlume

Next up were five-piece band Manuela. The epony­mous Manuela may have been dressed as a 1960s folk hip­py songstress, how­ev­er the mate­r­i­al was alto­geth­er some­thing tighter, more play­ful and pop­pi­er – more akin to the Franz Fer­di­nand roots the band spring from.

I remem­ber Ser­a­fi­na Steer from End of the Road in 2013 where she played the harp, today she plays along­side her vio­lin­ist and drum­mer as Bas Jan. After a gen­tle and wist­ful open­er about Wal­ton on the Naze, the rest of the mate­r­i­al took a far stronger, more dra­mat­ic and ball­sy turn. Bas Jan’s strength lies in their har­monies and in the vio­lin which inten­si­fies the dra­ma of the material.

lost map bas jan

I’d intend­ed to see Pic­tish Trail that evening but I was a bit slow off the mark and dis­cov­ered it was sold out – hence the rush to Union Chapel for this event – a Christ­mas par­ty of com­pelling performers.

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