Jonathan Wilson played the final date of his solo acoustic tour on Thursday night at the Union Chapel in Islington, North London. Music aside, the night promised to be something special because it was taking place in what has to be one of the most beautiful venues this country has to offer. The Union Chapel is a concert venue, arts centre, homeless project and - yes - a fully-functioning church. There is something quite magical about experiencing music in a space dominated by a rose window, flickering candles and a gothic pulpit. Whether you're a believer or not, the environment lends a spiritual ambience to proceedings that the average sticky-floored bingo hall is sorely lacking.
Filling the Special Guest slot for Wilson's tour was LA-based singer-songwriter Omar Velasco who uses a foot-operated sampler to create loops of his own playing, creating a fuller and more involving sound than you might expect from one man and an acoustic guitar. Velasco's songs offer a Latino slant on the Laurel Canyon sound that informs much of Wilson's repertoire. Hardly surprising as Velasco's day job is that of Wilson's right-hand man in his full electric touring band.
Although billed as solo and acoustic, Jonathan Wilson was variously supported by a string quartet and sidekick Velasco for much of his performance, allowing him to switch between acoustic guitar, telecaster and piano. For the first of two encores, the legendary Roy Harper joined Wilson onstage. If locked down Californian jam band grooves, rural hippie funk and David Gilmouresque guitar are your bag, you owe it to yourself to give Jonathan Wilson a listen.
There was a scrum for the merchandise stand after the gig, largely because of the promise of a seven inch single featuring a pair of tracks (Your Ears Are Burning / Sing To You) from Wilson's 2007 CDr-only release Frankie Ray. Limited to just 300 copies, all signed by Wilson, I'm chuffed to have one in my paws.