Monday, 10 October 2016

Live in 2016: The Christians live at Acapela Studios, Pentyrch, Cardiff on Saturday October 1st 2016

Tonight was a unique opportunity to see one of the UK's best bands up close and personal. The gig was being held in The Acapela Studios in a little village outside Cardiff called Pentyrch.
It's housed in a converted chapel which still has some pews both downstairs and upstairs and is a perfect space, especially for acoustic based music. Tonight's performance reminded me very much of one those MTV Unplugged shows which were a huge success a few years ago.

The Christians now comprise of Garry Christian (Vocals), Joey Ankrah (Vocals/Lead Guitar), Neil Griffiths (acoustic Guitar/Vocals) and Mike Trigg (Keyoards). They are still making albums, their latest being, We, released in 2015. But tonight we were treated to an almost complete Greatest Hits show.

The band, looking extremely comfortable in this foursome, perched on their stools, started the show with an accomplished and soulful cover of Bob Dylan's I Shall Be Released.
They had the crowd on their side within one song and the enthusiastic applause continued throughout the performance.

It would have been so easy for the band to slip into the promotion of their latest album, We, which is very good indeed. But they chose to give the audience exactly what they wanted with a succession of songs that were more or less The Christians Greatest Hits. It was a move that paid dividends as the Sold Out Acapela heard singing as it had probably not been heard since its days as a chapel. The audience knew every word and sung along on many of tonight's songs. They didn't need the encouragement of Garry Christian but he gave it anyway.

So, for the next song we had the sublime Born Again, which highlighted the harmonies that are still present within the band.

The Christians have had enough hits to warrant a Greatest Hits album and the next song Perfect Moment was one that was included on the band's Best Of album released in 1993, showing that they could still produce a song in that year as good as any of their 80s tunes.

The band were clearly enjoying tonight's show and the witty banter between themselves and the audience only enhanced the jovial atmosphere within the hall.

A big cheer wnt up as the opening phrase to the next song, Words, rang around the walls of the studio. The crowd sat silently to this one as they drank in the fabulous lead vocal of Garry Christian. He still has a voice like velvet.

It was a case of severe audience participation for the next song, Greenbank Drive, as the band hit their stride in giving the audience another of their biggest hits.

Tonight was a show of two halves and the band finished part one on a high as they sang another of their best known hits, the anthemic, What's In A Word. Again with the audience singing along with great enthusiasm. 

After a swift drink, it was back into the fray as the opening notes of another huge 80s anthem, Forgotten Town, rang around the chapel. It's delightful to hear all of these fantastic songs again, many written by former Christian, HENRY PRIESTMAN who now has a very successful solo career. The songs are full of a social conscience and have lost none of their power and insight over the years.

As if to prove that the band have not lost their social conscience, the next song is from their latest album, We, and is about the 96 Liverpool football fans who lost their lives at Hillsborough. 
Big Red Sky provided one of the show stopping moments as the band projected a film of the fight the families of the 96 fought to get justice for their departed loved ones. It was a very moving moment.
Here is that video.

How do you follow that? Well, if you're The Christians, you pick one of your biggest hits as we are treated to another superb singalong to the fantastic, Ideal World. If ever we needed this song - it's now - and the audience reaction is just fantastic. 

It's now hits again for the last three songs of the evening as the band play The Bottle, Sad Songs and then end the set with the superb Hooverville. Again, a song that has lost none of it's power over the subsequent years and is as relevant today as the day it was first released back in 1987.

The song brought an end to the second set and a standing ovation from a Sold Out Acapela. But there had to be an encore.

And why not leave the audience on a high. The Christians chose their biggest hit to end the show tonight, a great cover of The Isley Brothers classic, Harvest For The World. As you can see from the video below (from tonight's performance), it was a great singalong moment and was the perfect ending to a very excellent show.

The day after the gig, the band announced another date for 2017. 

I've got my ticket already.

Do yourselves a favour and go and see a great band who can still cut the mustard on their own terms. Trust me, you won't be disappointed.

And when you come back next year guys, how about playing MY favourite Christians song - the majestic Man Don't Cry?

Twitter - @thechristians

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