Shoreditch Church really is a lovely venue, a grand and beautiful space with some cavernous acoustics. The natural reverb is employed to great effect by support act Raf & O with their beguiling, droning set.

The stage is set for Adam Donen, the South African songwriter who has spent the last decade living in London and Berlin, and a previous performer at one of the Pennyblackmusic's live gigs. As candles line the tables, shadows move across the wall as a number of backing musicians (some seven or more) take their seat, including a member of the Cure in pianist Roger O'Donnell. Donen himself enters in dramatic style, looking like something from the front cover of 'Sgt. Pepper'. In reality, though, Donen's music has more in common with Leonard Cohen and Tindersticks in its lengthy, personal poetry-based lyrical content, but backed by a full band, including an opera singer (whose voice is especially prominent on a run through 'Sophia' from his second album 'Vampires'), the music is amplified to a more fuller feel.

Donen's music can't escape his surroundings; hence the references to the area in London he lived ('Manor House Girl'). Meanwhile, a speech to the audience about the closure of individual venues such as the Foundry, the Spitz (where Pennyblackmusic used to have their own nights) and The Luminaire before 'Over Your Cities Grass Will Grow', from his new album
'False Bay Echoes', are used as an example of increasing creeping conformity in the British capital. "Your Notting Hill Chancellor fingers his axe as you lisp and you flirt," he spits as the music swells behind him. But it's the aforementioned 'Sophia' and 'Elgin Avenue Squat', the latter again from the new album, which are the real highlights, the music swelling to their encores. "My reign is short/I do not take it lightly," he sings during the latter, leading to calls for an encore from the audience. A pretty special ending from a singular talent in this most special of venues.

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Commenting On: Shoreditch Church, London, 4/4/2014 - Adam Donen

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