Well, ladies and gentlemen, London conquest is complete! Having conquered the South (Omeara), the West (The Tabernacle) and the East (Hoxton Hall), Damian Lewis and his fabulous band headed to Union Chapel for their biggest gig to date. And they gave us an evening of musical feast at a magical venue! So please come join me at Union Chapel and live or re-live (if you were lucky enough to be there) every single detail from that glorious evening.
Built in the late 19th century in the Gothic revival style, Union Chapel is a working church and a charity center where homeless people go to obtain food and other services. It is also a live entertainment venue with amazing light and incredible acoustics. And Damian is no stranger to the venue: he and Helen performed at the acclaimed Letters Live in 2018 and 2019.
So this time he just stepped down from the pulpit to play the guitar and sing for a captive audience!
My good friend Patrick and I have been plotting for a couple of months to be able to get seats in the front and center. The venue website says doors open earlier for those who make dinner reservations (even though I knew I would not be able to eat a thing because I lose my appetite completely on gig days!) to get into the venue a bit earlier than those in the general admission line. Still, we are cautious enough to arrive at the venue very early!
A line starts to form early on and I distribute the “I was there” fridge magnets – now a TRADITION!
Doors open at 6:30 for dinner but you are not allowed to get into the chapel immediately. They open the doors at 7pm but since you are already in the building you can run and get first row seats. And that is exactly what we do.
Here is our fab front row from Left to Right: Dalia who came all the way from Israel, Patrick, me, Gozde, Tsveti, and Monique and Vincent who came from the Netherlands! I met all these lovely people through Damian Lewis fandom. And I was very happy to see Bamm, Lauren, and Paola again. I also met Keren, whom I have known on Twitter for a long time, finally in person! And it was lovely to see Sharmila Collins of Cure EB and Debbi Clark of Sir HvH Arts, two amazing ladies I deeply admire!
The first surprise of the evening: There is MERCH! T-shirts and totes made by 3AQ Studio and signed CDs and vinyls!
Once we are in, we nick posters from the walls of the venue (Patrick is my hero!) and then we study the set list on the floor.
And before getting into the details of the gig, I want to take this opportunity to thank my best friend and my love Lewisto for his endless support – for taking photos and making videos so I can just sit down (even though I prefer standing venues way more since I love dancing!), relax, and enjoy the gig! I love you to the moon and back.
It’s full house at Union Chapel and Christy O’Donnell kicks off the evening as the support act. I am hearing his music for the first time, and I am obviously no music critic. But I am impressed by the sound as well as the lyrics in Christy’s songs…
…especially the song he wrote for his dad’s wife who had been diagnosed with cancer and given three months to live… Christy couldn’t understand it and wrote this song. It is beautiful. And the good news is that three months have been over for a long time and the lady this song was written for is alive. I would also strongly encourage everyone to hear his “In Denial” and “When We Get Old.” Such beautiful tunes. They have heartfelt tenderness to them.
And it is time! Here is Damian and his fabulous sense of humor:
“So many devout people in one place. G, have you got your sax? May I please ask everyone please to be upstanding for the National Anthem?”
😀 😀 😀
And he adds:
“I’d be interested to know who got that joke and who didn’t.”
And they take it away with Damian’s first single Down on the Bowery. It is such a great choice as a gig opener – gets you in the mood and leaves you crave for more!
“This next song is our second single. I used to go busking through Europe taking my motorbike, a tent and a guitar… One night I judged, crossing the Pyrenees very poorly… Night fell and electric storm raged overhead. I looked up and I had a rotting hole in the roof of my tent.”
This is Zaragoza. And here is what Clash Music says about the song:
“The lush blues sound of ‘Zaragoza’ perfectly blends his whisky-parched vocal with the excellent band surrounding him.”
“My guitar… decorated by my children in lockdown. It’s very beautiful.”
The next song is Hole in My Roof.
“Dave Archer on the guitar… Honolulu Dave for you.”
😀 😀 😀
“Absolutely brilliant set up back here. There’s kitchens and everything. They serve us dinner and the remains go to homeless people tomorrow morning. It’s really good. The only thing is they served us the spiciest lamb curry I think I’ve ever eaten. Luckily, I have a towel.”
Lewisto still regrets that he had the eggplant and chickpea curry instead!
“This is about a very fantastic woman.”
Here is a snippet of My Little One, a celebration of a phenomenal woman with a laugh and a growl <3
“Will Cleasby on the drums. Kitty Liv on the harmonica.”
The next song is Soho Tango, one of my absolute favorites on the album.
Damian told in a recent interview with Metro UK what this song is about:
“…about meeting someone for the very first time and chatting her up on the streets of Soho and thinking I’d closed the deal and she got in the taxi and went home.”
So this can even happen to Damian Lewis!!!! 😀 The song has a part where Damian whistles and after the song he jokes that whistling does not always work 🙂 And he and G have a plan that when G sees that whistling is not goin well, he will come in with a little sax to save him 🙂
“So those are all songs from our debut album Mission Creep… (applause) if you haven’t bought one… Buy now, there are on sale signed copies, as you leave tonight. CD or vinyl. Your choice.”
“Right. This is an old favorite. You all know this. It’s one of the most beautiful songs ever written. I love it. It’s a cover. It’s by Neil Young.”
Harvest Moon is one of the songs Damian recently chose as one of his songs in The Line of Best Fit Nine Songs. Here is the heartwarming story he shares about it:
“I love “Harvest Moon” as a song. It moves me, it’s a very beautiful song. Neil Young always moaned about the success of Harvest, because he said it put him in the middle of the road and he didn’t travel well there. He didn’t like it, but it was a massive, number one selling album.
It was acoustic and I have to put my hand up and say, I like middle of the road Neil Young. I loved Harvest. And then many moons later – many harvest moons later – he made “Harvest Moon”, and I don’t feel I’m there yet, but there’s something very touching about the autumn of your life, which is what he’s singing about.
The video is so touching, it’s just him and his lady as an older couple, shuffling around the dance floor having a little dance. It’s absolutely beautiful and I love it. It was a song I actually sent to Helen once, my wife, who I lost a couple of years ago. I remember I was filming in New York, and I learned to play it on my guitar and it’s now one of the cover songs that I play in my set and it’s also on my album.”
I certainly do not want to bring my feelings into every tune Damian plays/sings. And he has already said and rightly so that Mission Creep is not a grief album.
But this song is just so meaningful and Damian’s voice makes you feel it all. Deeply. Very deeply.
“Because I’m still in love with you, I want to see you dance again…”
Back to the gig…
“It’s Jamie on the piano.”
The next song is about spies: Never Judge A Man By His Umbrella.
For those of you that do not know: Never Judge A Man By His Umbrella is the title of a memoir written by former MI-6 Nicholas Elliott, the very man Damian is portraying in A Spy Among Friends!
“Giacomo Smith on the sax and clarinet.”
“Phil Donnelly on the bass & guitar. You know this one, too. This one, two, three. This one as well. It’s an old favorite. Enjoy it.”
And oh my God Damian rocks the room with his performance of Warren Zevon’s Werewolves of London! In case you do not know the song, it is about a well-dressed womanizer, a ladies’ man, a werewolf f you will, preying on little old ladies. We think it is a perfect song for Damian’s voice.
“Wouldn’t it be nice to grow old in Paris?”
The next song, Wanna Grow Old in Paris, is about a lady who wanted to grow old like a chic Parisian grand-dame and managed to do some of the things mentioned in the song…
“When I’m eighty… I will be your baby.”
I LOVE IT.
And here comes Surprise number 2!
“Ok. We’ve got a couple of songs that are not on Mission Creep. And this is gonna be the world premiere of this song right here. And if you think it’s any good we’ll put it on the next album and bring you back here and force you to buy that one, too.”
The new song is called Fate and based on the applause it receives, it will be on the next album 🙂
Damian now picks up his new electric guitar. It is Makin’ Plans time!
“Ok Will. Take it away.”
“I’ve had two motorbike crashes. One of them I was very lucky to come out of. Right outside Pentonville Prison on the Caledonian Road, I went straight into the windscreen of a car. Terrible, terrible, terrible crash. I woke up in the middle of the road a few minutes later. Had I not been wearing a closed helmet, I’d be very surprised if I was sitting here right now.”
“How is everyone doing? You okay?”“Yeah!” (Someone asks) “How are you doing?”“Yeah I’m enjoying myself. Thanks for asking. I’m having a really fuckin’ great time.”
“This is, a Jelly Roll Morton song originally, then a Leon Redbone cover, and our cover of that…”
Here is Why. A wonderful New Orleans jazz tune and Giacomo’s solo is a true killer!
“Giacomo Smith, ladies and gentlemen. He can play that damn thing.”
“Ladies and gentlemen, this has been fantastic. Thank you so much for coming out. How’s everybody doing at the top? (Cheers) If you like, can we hear a cheer from the boys? (Cheers) Let’s hear from the girls… (BIG Cheers)”
Obviously, we the girls got this!
“This is gonna be our last one.”
Last but not the least She Comes is actually the first song Damian wrote. He talked about the song when he released it as his fourth single along with a very moving music video.
“She Comes is the first song I wrote for my debut album, so that makes it… my first song – that I’ve shared with the world, at any rate. It’s about ghosts, and one ghost in particular. The album has hybrid sounds all through it but this song leans heavily on a folk set up before crescendo-ing with a jazz feel brought by my brilliant band.”
“We hoped to convey the feeling of an abandoned house, of the ghost of the woman that once lived there and a group of friends gathering to celebrate her.”
I suspect She Comes will always be my favorite Damian Lewis song.
“Thank you very much everybody. Thank you. Thank you.”
“Okay. Here we go. This is a new song, too. I hope you like it. She make me change.
“Manon and Gully, if you’re out there, I love you.”
In a recent interview with Metro UK, Damian said that there was quite a bit of teasing when he first shared with his kids that he would start writing songs and make an album. But now that the kids know that dad is taking this seriously they are very supportive.
Here is She Make Me Change.
“Okay. This is really the last one and you will all know it again. Enjoy! Glide into the night and enjoy that, too. And have a drink.”
“You are the front row. I know you.”
Damian: “It’s perfect size for a cup of Yorkshire Gold.”Me: “It’s Brody’s favorite.”Damian: “Yes.”