Phildel used her surroundings of St Pancras Old Church to create a mixed media experience, instead of simply performing her songs – this was an inspired move.
This tiny church has a rich history and amongst those buried in its churchyard are a vampire writer, a composer and a sculptor. It clings to the edge of the glitzy new St Pancras Station, where Eurostar trains glide into London and cool bars are replacing the arches and alleyways of old King’s Cross.
Most of the audience are seated early as dusk falls in the church, moody music and an abundance of dry ice rack up the gothic quota. As starting time draws near, heads crane round to the church entrance and I wonder if a fashionably late Satanic bride will appear.
Three masked figures appear and walk in slow procession up the aisle, carrying candles, before performing a free-flowing dance – these figures like white witches are clad in fluid, sculptural dressed by Phildel’s favourite designer Henrietta Ludgate.
Next to appear are Phildel’s band for the evening: Chris Young on synth, Oliver Lowe on drums, Enrica De Cesare on vocals, Luca Kocsmarszky on violin and vocals and Bryony James, cello and vocals. And, as the opening notes of The Disappearance of the Girl commence, Phildel makes her entrance, a dramatic figure in a black dress, barefoot.
This is definitely a ‘Ladies Night’. The three female musicians echo the dancers in their white dresses and chalky faces, acting as a foil for Phildel’s dark and dramatic stage persona. Chris’s face is whited out, but it’s the females on stage who are the focus.
The second number is Storm Song. Whatever problems there had been with the sound during rehearsals were certainly ironed out as the sound was well balanced. Usually, when I see a band live, there’s that moment of minor adjustment, as the live, raw voice takes over from the tweaked one I’ve got used to from the recorded version. With Phildel this doesn’t happen: her natural voice is of the same strength and clarity as on her CD, and there’s a warmth that is more pronounced on hearing her live.
I particularly like The Wolf with its pulsing beat, and Dare, not previously a song that has stood out for me. In keeping with the theatrical mood, Phildel doesn’t talk much between numbers, but as the evening progresses she appears more relaxed and has a bit of a banter with us. She ends with Switchblade and there’s a tantalising moment where it looks like we’re going to get one more song, but sadly it’s not to be and the evening draws to a close.
The Disappearance of the Girl, St Pancras Old Church
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