October 7, 2013

Deptford Goth at Union Chapel

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I decided that Deptford Goth’s debut Life After Defo was my favourite album of the year when it was released back in March – a bit premature, I know. My wonderful boyfriend secretly bought us tickets to see him in September at Union Chapel and intended to give them to me for my birthday in early June.

Forgetting previous favourites, a week before my birthday, I insisted that Baths’ newly released album Obsidian was my best album of 2013, scuppering his plans for the ‘here’s tickets to see your favourite album live’ gift…  Thankfully he saw the funny side!

With the clause ‘so far'(!), in for safety, Deptford Goth at Union Chapel is the best gig I’ve been to this year. I’d never been to Union Chapel before and got to Islington while it was still light to see this beauty of a building from outside. We had a quick dinner at Le Mercury which does incredibly delicious french food for around £10 and then zipped back up the road to get a good seat/ pew.

Union Chapel was built to be a venue – for a place of worship and for gigs it really is fantastic – everything from the sloped floor, the kiosk selling drinks and treats at the back, to the balcony and the amazing acoustics makes it the perfect place for live music. We arrived an hour before the support so took the opportunity to nab a second row seat, drink hot chocolate – out of real mugs! – and look around at the fairy lit side entrances and the beautiful ceiling.

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The support band was To Be Frank; the lead singer was called Frank of course! They played a nice set with some catchy tunes. The only downside was that the lead singer’s face was completely blocked by instruments and gadgets. It didn’t spoil the sound, but the visual aspect of live music was rather diluted.

The majority of audience members were bearded and tousle-haired young men, almost to the point that it felt like a dress code. Deptford Goth, also known as Daniel Woodhouse, appeared in the similar just rolled out of bed state. He has previously explained that his stage name was created simply to be a nonsense name – so in no way did he resemble a tortured dark clothed emo from East London. For me, the name ‘Deptford Goth’ conjures images of lone man stalking through the city in twilight and actually I think it really captures the toughness, intensity and quiet sorrow of his music.

Two cellists and a violinist shared the stage with him and added depth to his minimalist electronic music and gave new life with new exciting new arrangements to the album. Life of Defo, an extraordinary and emotional album charting a break up, felt fleshed out on stage and far more beautiful than I was expecting. Especially ‘Union’, with its message of connectedness felt perfectly suited to the atmosphere of the venue.. Every song held together well in a live setting, a difficult feat when the Deptford Goth’s music relies on pauses, gentle beats and his delicate voice.

The gig finished on a fantastic high. For the encore, he brought on the amazing Roundhouse Experimental Choir who featured in a video with him earlier in September for Noisey with ‘Feel Real’. Their final song together was my favourite – an older track ‘No Man’, from Deptford Goth’s Youth II EP released in 2011. The choral backed tune was layered more substantially and the refrain ‘the water is rising’ that we hear at the beginning on the record was sung throughout the song by the REC, giving the tune a punchy, warm anthemic quality. The staccato keyboard accompaniment, strings and Woodhouse’s rich breathy voice became a rejoicing swell of music, a wonderful celebratory end the night.

What’s your favourite gig of 2013 so far?

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