Alessi’s Ark – St Pancras Old Church

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Can’t find any video from the night, here she is singing “Tin Smithing” at my local pub.

Why this gig?

I first saw Alessi’s Ark in Hyde Park when I was wandering around at random between acts on the main stage at the Neil Young show in 2009. I was instantly captivated by her music and have seen her live whenever possible in the last five years.

Support

Alessi can be guaranteed to have interesting support acts and tonight is no exception. There are three supports.

Pollyanna Valentine are a really interesting band. To my ears they sounded like a lo-fi Sigur Ros. I’ll definitely be looking out for them again.

Rachael Dadd started off really well. But but rather too many of her songs were written either about or for her baby.

I’m not sure what I can say about Ichi. He’s Japanese and is a one-man band. But he’s a one-man band who uses traditional Japanese styles and instruments. It’s bizarre, but really entertaining. If you get the chance, you should really see him.

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Alessi starts off really well – playing some songs from her latest album, The Still Life, and a few older numbers. But after twenty minutes she falters slightly. She admitts that she is repeating the set list from a previous show, but that she has just realised that the set list was from a twenty minute set – and today she has an hour to fill.

Alessi always has a slightly nervous demeanour on stage. I’ve always wondered if she exaggerates that for her stage image, but tonight it’s clear that she really is as nervous and disorganised as she appears. Being forty minutes short of rehearsed material really throws her off her stride. She has no real idea what she wants to play.

She plays a few songs that go well. But there are others where she gives up after a few bars. The audience shout out some suggestions. She tries out a couple, but can’t remember the chords.

In the end, she brings back Racheal Dadd and they play a couple of songs together which go really well. But Alessi’s confidence is shaken and she announces that she is going to call it a night – twenty minutes short of the expected time.

Actually, it’s all rather endearing. The tickets were cheap and the support acts were really good, so no-one feels at all ripped off. I’m sure that Alessi feels worse about it than the audience do. I’m not sure what went wrong – why she was so unprepared for the show – but I’m confident that she’ll learn from the experience and will be better rehearsed next time.

I’d still recommend that you go and see her.

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