“I don’t need a devil to change my mind”…

Ed Harcourt – Leeds

So the next step on my Forty for Forty quest took me into the heart of Leeds. It’s a place where times are changing and changing fast. The streets that I aimlessly wandered as a teenager are still there, but the feel of the city is being transformed.

The heart of the transformation is the new Trinity shopping area – I can’t say shopping centre, because all they have done is enclose and add a roof to the exisiting area, but still, it makes a dramatic difference.

And who would have thought that the venue I would find myself in would be a church. A church that is still very much alive and used, but now also transformed into the most intimate gig venue. Strange to think that I have not really set foot in a church – other than weddings or funerals – in over 30 years.

During the evening sun, the church felt very much that – a church. Rows of seats, the lectern, the prayer books – it would change, but I will touch on that later. I arrived early and had the chance to meet Ed pre- show – as I used one of his songs in the “It is as it is” book, I wanted to get him to sign his page.

Ed – a true gent – said kind things and then proceeded to scribble a poem in the book – most unexpected and most beautiful – this is the type of writing I can only aspire to.

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After the meeting it was food then wander back to take my seat. The setting was a good conversation opener, and it was easy to chat with people before things got underway.

They kicked off with a stunning female singer called Catherine AD – She was easy on the eye as well as the ears, with a set of really beautiful and haunting lyrics – ably assisted by her female companion, Catherine had good stage presence and not afraid to communicate with the audience – something I have noticed support acts struggling with.

Ed came on around 9 via a nice suprise –making the best use of his setting – his first song was belted out using the church organ, before descending upon the piano. Dressed like someone about to be cast in a Gothic thriller, Ed’s fingers danced their way through the first few tunes, with his immaculate voice booming, filling up the church.

He promised to curb his turrets syndrome in respect of his surrounds and bantered tentatively with the crowd at first, but as the night wore on – and the bottles of beer took hold, a more relaxed Ed became evident. I didn’t keep a setlist, I am sure that there will be one online somewhere – but there was a good mixture of stuff, even the Harcourt hardcore fan would have been pleased.

It was as the night crept in though that this gig notched to another eerie level. The darkness of the church was broken by the green lighting effect that Ed was using – it worked so well and really took the audience to another place. As Ed swapped Piano for guitar – using the loop type equipment I have seen Liam Finn use, all of a sudden, it felt we were not in a church at all.

Near the end, Ed even ditched the PA and wandered the aisle like some Gothic minstrel playing such a sweet tune – even the decision of one attendee to go to the toilet at this point to a bemused Ed – couldn’t stop him in his tracks – a born performer if there ever was one.

The show ended with the audience being Ed’s drum beat for his last song – it was all over much too soon! For the cost of a ticket, for the surroundings and for the quality of most of Ed’s songs, it really was value for money and I will see him again if in the area – I really recommend.

To accompany this post, what other song of Ed’s could I choose but the aptly titled “Church of no Religion”.

Enjoy

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