A short but sweet set from Paul Draper in a majestic church setting.
I have to be honest and say that, in all fairness, I probably should not have gone out this night. Coming out of four days of acutely awful IBS pain, I thought I was feeling well enough to detach myself from my hot water bottle and make the trip up to Islington to see Paul Draper. However, I felt so ill on the tube that I nearly turned back several times, and only the knowledge that it would be a civilised, sit-down gig inside a church with no moshing or jostling to deal with made me push forwards.
This was a many-act gig to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the label K-Scope, and when I booked the ticket, I had intended to watch all the bands and get acquainted with other artists on the label. However, given that I was not in top form on the night, I decided to just make it a quick trip to see Paul Draper. Once inside the Union Chapel, I found a nice spot four rows back to the left of the stage just in time to catch the band on before Paul, the previously unknown to me Godsticks. They played two lovely songs with some pleasantly mournful harmonies, making me want to investigate their back catalogue further. Then, after a brief set-up period on stage, Paul was introduced as an act who had actually been at number one in the charts – clearly a foreign country to most K-Scope acts.
Paul came on stage with guitarist Ben Sink and they began with “Friends Make the Worst Enemies”. Slight technical issues ensued as Paul was bereft of a lead for his guitar, but soon one was supplied and plugged in with a loud bang during the opening verse of the song. Paul was, as ever, in excellent voice, soaring effortlessly from the deep register of the verses to the highest notes of the chorus. Unfortunately, however, I was not able to concentrate fully on the glories of his voice, as some idiot behind me decided that these quietly reverential surroundings were an appropriate place to (a) sing along loudly to every word and (b) narrate a running commentary to his mate at every point when he wasn’t singing.
So what with this and my rubbish state of health, this gig will not stand in my memory as one of my greatest nights out. The setlist was identical to that at Rough Trade East back in June, with just a slight change of order. Apart from the odd moment when Paul and Ben seemed slightly out of sync, they were on excellent form, with Paul as chatty and personable as ever. The definite highlights for me were “The Chad Who Loved Me”, so gorgeous and glorious in its acoustic version despite the lack of its sweeping orchestral flourish, and the beautifully snide “Disgusting”. The closing version of “Wide Open Space” seemed to get slower and slower with each verse, but that didn’t stop it from being, as ever, a shiver-inducing joy to hear live.
So in the end, given my ailing state, it was possibly foolish decision to trek to the other side of London just to hear six songs. But given they were six songs from Paul Draper, it was worth it.