Monday 2nd August 2010

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & The Cairo Gang + Trembling Bells

St. John the Baptist’s Church

Taken by B-JAMMIN for Taylor John's House Flickr

“The few wonders of the world only exist while there are those with the sight to see them” – Charles de Lint

As the light begins to fade on Spon Street, inside the picturesque setting of the 14th century church of St. John the Baptist, Alex Neilson’s Trembling Bells make their second appearance on a Coventry stage in three months – their last performance being a captivating headline show at The Tin Angel. Equipment issues (broken strings and guitar strap failure) for guitarist Mike aside, their set is an overflowing melting pot of of ye olde English music, ’60s folk and jangly guitar pop, all topped off with Lavina Blackwall’s soaring vocals. Highlights include the traditional song ‘Seven Years a Teardrop’, an acapella duet between Blackwall and Neilson, and the uptempo ‘Love Made an Outlaw of Your Heart’, featuring a special guest appearance from a certain Will Oldham…

…who later returns to the stage for a very extraordinary set by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & The Cairo Gang, with Blackwall and Neilson also in tow. This show is intimate, even by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy standards, and the audience is sticking to every single note. The classic ‘I See A Darkness’ is aired, along with songs from new album The Wonder Show Of The World, and it’s two songs from that record – ‘Troublesome Houses’ and ‘Go Folks, Go’ – that stand out tonight; the former with a folk n’ roll edge, the latter the best of the many showcases for the adventurous harmonies of Oldham, Blackwall and The Cairo Gang’s Emmett Kelly. Fleshing out the starkest of songs in a house of God, Oldham and friends transcend their 14th century surroundings and their performances in the present, with something that is truly timeless. The Wonder Show Of The World? Yes, it certainly is, and for one night only, that wonder is right in front of us.

A bumper collection of photos from the gig – all taken by Taylor John’s resident photographer B-JAMMIN – can be accessed by clicking here.

The Wonder Show Of The World by Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy & The Cairo Gang is out now in multiple formats on Donimo Records. Abandoned Love by Trembling Bells is available in multiple formats on Honest Jon’s Records.