cone magazine

Review: Jessica Pratt at St John’s church, London.

Jessica Prat London Cone Magazine

A couple of the guys from Cone were lucky enough to head over to London this week to catch an intimate gig from US folk songstress Jessica Pratt. As if in an act of fate (or perhaps just a strategic booking decision) the show took place in Bethnal Green’s St John’s church – the 19th century Anglican construction providing the ideal setting for Pratt’s angelic music.

Inside, the ambiance was simultaneously warming and haunting. The church’s high walls and religious undertones provided the framework, with an assortment of punters filling the varnished wooden benches. A makeshift bar had been set up in the corner, manned by men appropriately aged for the venue, and contemporary religious paintings hung around its entirety. Their bold colors contrasted well with the dark, expansive interior. For a minute, it was difficult to tell if the night was some mid-week spin-off of a regular Sunday service.

The starting slot saw Bristol’s Two White Cranes take on the stage single-handedly. Manned with just one guitar and a voice, her minimal pop-punk compositions completely engulfed the room with natural reverb and power. “Wow, everything sounds better in a church,’ she laughed, after belting out her first number. Even after breaking a string, she was modest and friendly with the attentive crowd, filling the 30 minutes with personal-diary-style tunes that were soft but punchy and raw. Perhaps more upbeat than her successor, Two White Cranes presented an interesting social commentary on love and anecdotal experiences.

Jessica Pratt’s arrival onstage was met with an eagerly awaiting and excited audience. Considering the obscurity of the venue (plus the locality of the artist) it was obvious that each seat in this sell-out show was filled with an avid admirer.

Accompanied only by her nylon and the soft fills of an electric, Pratt’s angelic spell quickly fell over the crowd. With precision, an infants voice lay inside a deep hum, and slow, dark folk compositions poured out. It’s evident that the sounds of the ‘60s could be a point of reference, but her expression is truly her own. Songs like ‘Moon Dude’ and ‘Strange Melody’ swept the crowd away, leaving room only for slight creeks in the antique floorboards, or the breathing sounds of your neighbor, until a rapturous applause was released. It’s not often that a song’s soft intentions can leave an entire room completely entranced.

With a two song encore that ended the night (much to the power of the audience) it’s evident that Pratt holds something truly magical in the tips of her fingers. Each composition held perfect harmony whilst her personal laments whisked her listeners to another plane. It is safe to say that we eagerly await the next performance we can snag tickets to.


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