It’s a great album. This blog has already said that. And today, Monday, it gets its official release.
But if you were lucky enough to be at St Andrew’s Church in Hove on Saturday night you would have got to hear the whole thing played through in a beautiful setting.
Entering to the buzzing of bees and twittering of birds, the first 50 through the door were offered a small glass of home-made honey mead, made by Gemma Woodpecker herself, a keen beekeeper. And delicious it was.
Opening act Ichi is from Japan and has to be seen, to be believed. Entering stage-left on stilts, which turn out to be part of his musical equipment, he performs a funky witty entrancing set on a series of home-made instruments and objects, including a battered trumpet, kettle drum, balloon and ping pong ball.
The intermission, in-between the intermissions, featured a sword-dance act, where a veiled woman with the longest hair I’ve ever seen danced to the sounds of a saw being played with a bow. It was enchanting.
The headliner then came on, with the unusual addition of a band who proceeded to reproduce the full album in all its odd beauty and electrifying rush. Marcus Hamblett (producer of the album) added some beautiful flourishes on the trumpet and a variety of noises from a desk full of knobs and pedals. The drumming was subtle and inventive, and the occasional addition of Emma Gatrill offered further depth to a sound that filled the whole church hall.
The star of course was Gemma, who was clearly enjoying herself, full of empassioned vocals and smiles. She ended with an unplanned encore, just herself sitting on the steps at the front of the stage playing a lovely acoustic number and charming the audience.
This gig followed a successful London launch the night before and a series of radio appearances. The songs are born of a darker place, but seem joyful and ecstatic in performance. This was a brilliant set, and the album should go far. I recommend you hear it and if you like it, go buy it.
Woodpecker Wooliams in St Andrews Church playing an encore on the steps
Photographs are by Jon Southcoasting