She will send a storm to capture your heart
Looks can be deceiving. From the outside, there are not many clues, if any, about its pedigree as a renowned music venue. The building looks dated, tired, and you could easily be persuaded to believe it is a bingo hall or snooker club, which incidentally, it was years gone-by!
Bush Hall is a small 300+ capacity venue which has character, great acoustics, and lends itself perfectly for those intimate gigs where artist and audience are so close they could almost touch each other. The interior is pink, ornate, reminiscent of those old-time dance halls with high ceilings and several two-tier chandeliers giving a sense of elegant decadence.
The lobby is a narrow corridor adorned with photos of musicians who have previously played at Bush Hall, and what an impressive line-up it is: Adele, Kings of Leon, Lilly Allen, Amy Winehouse, REM plus many more of the World’s best-known artists and bands silently watching over you as you study each photo and accompanying review. The corridor leads into the bar, which then leads into the auditorium, a hall devoid of chairs except for a few round tables and chairs near the front.
We parked ourselves at the very front on the left near a grand piano next to the stage. In front of the stage a maypole had been erected with several coloured ribbons taped to the floor. The auditorium filled slowly, and after some considerable time, it always seems like an eternity when you wait patiently for a performance to start, the lights flickered to indicate the start of the show. First the band took their positions on the stage, and were followed by a group of six young females in dresses wearing masks, who took their places around the maypole each grabbing the end of one of the coloured ribbons.
As piano filled the hall and a chorus of angelic voices from ‘Union Stone’ gently caressed our ears, so the maypole dancers started their dance skipping in opposite directions round the maypole gracefully and skilfully avoiding colliding with each other. The dance and music ended and as the last of the girls exited, the band started to play and smoke-filled the stage; Phildel appeared, barefoot, stunning in a white dress, and effortlessly started to sing ‘The Disappearance of the Girl’, her excellent debut album’s title track, a haunting, gentle, melodic song dominated by strings, percussion, expert synth and her immaculate voice.
Phildel is no ordinary artist, she cannot be compared to any mainstream artist, her style is unique, her songs are authentic and even the instruments which accompany her repertoire are not your usual guitars and bass, instead she uses strings, piano, synth, percussion and rich harmonies. Her music is visual and tells a very definite story, her own story, which is both tragic and magical.
The third song ‘Storm Song’ a more upbeat but also gentle number with a very infectious hook and again those angelic harmonies and choruses is perhaps one of the most commercially strong songs on the album. The sound at Bush Hall was so good, that this, as well as most of the thirteen or so songs on Phildel’s set list sounded as good as the fully produced and mastered CD versions, a true testament to Phildel, her band as well as the sound engineers at the venue.
After ‘Storm Song’, Phildel stepped off the stage and took to the grand piano which sat patiently waiting for her to start playing ‘Beside You’, a stunning love ballad with words like ‘I’ll be everywhere you go, you go, in my symbolised world I’m a beautiful girl, in my house on the hill there is room for you still’. The arrangements with piano, strings, haunting synth plus those angelic choruses and harmonies are simply exquisite. ‘Union Stone’, the full version quickly followed and Phildel, now fully relaxed and in her element, started to tell eloquent stories in-between songs giving away a charming, humble and slightly mischievous side to her personality.
Her magnificent set ended with a double encore and a standing ovation which took her by surprise and moved her to tears. Without a doubt this is a performer who oozes talent, passion, determination and whose songs are honest, heartfelt, dramatic and sometimes verging on the tragic. Phildel literally has the World at her feet. I for one, consider myself incredibly privileged to have witnessed this performance, and I urge you to go to one of her intimate gigs before she starts playing larger and less intimate venues. If you haven’t bought her album, go and grab yourself a copy.123