Gig 22: The Johnny Parry Chamber Orchestra / Union Chapel, Islington / 09.06.12

The final gig.
And a complete punt.

With little time left before the end of the project, and with only one gig to go – I went rogue and bought two tickets to the Johnny Parry Chamber Orchestra. Blind.
You know it’s going to be a strange one when you’re buying tickets because of the venue, rather than the band.

Nevertheless – I sat back on my pew and listened to the support, Dan Michaelson.

Wow the guy has a low voice. So low that it’s pretty damn hard to figure out if there is a tune at all.
The guitar work was basic and the songs uncomplicated – nothing too eye opening – but his dry stage talk was his saving grace. He won round the audience with his sarcastic drawl before exiting sharpish stage left.

Returning from the bar, I see the stage is now populated with 20+ musicians. The orchestra has arrived.
As has Johnny Parry.
Johnny Parry looks like a cross between Tim Minchin and Jack Sparrow – falling somewhere in Duke Special territory, but without the eye makeup or dreads.

The room is half empty – I quickly do the maths and check that there are more people in the audience than on stage. There are. Just.

The strings start up and they sound wonderful in the chapel.
The bands sound is huge – awesome in a church.
The arrangement was tight, the drummer superb and the opera singers impressive.
Arthouse films play on the projector behind the band and Johnny Parry sings in a TomWaitsEsque drawl.

Without his voice, the sound was incredible – a delicious blend of Elbow and Mercury Rev.

But with the voice – it just didn’t click with me. If I’m honest – the songs need a little work too.
Have it my way and the orchestra would break away from Johnny.
Find a new leader.
Rise up.
Be free.
Take up with a new singer songwriter – and earn a few bob.

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