Live Review: Waxahatchee @ St Pancras Old Church.

St Pancras Old Church is a beautiful place to experience live music – described  as “London’s most spectacular intimate live music venue”, it really does justify that assessment. It’s toasty within; convection heaters blast warm air up the walls and make for the perfect antidote to the January chill outside. Hundreds of tealights add to that warmth and help keep the place nicely underexposed – though at the business end the artistes do at least get a pair of table lamps and some left over Christmas lights (well, it is a church) to help them find their way around.

Waxahatchee - Katie Crutchfield performing at St Pancras Old Church 26/01/15 (Simon Reed 2015)

Waxahatchee – Katie Crutchfield performing at St Pancras Old Church 26/01/15 (Simon Reed 2015)

It’s a fine backdrop for Waxahatchee, the solo musical project of Katie Crutchfield – named after the Waxahatchee Creek in her native Alabama, to perform a pair of sold-out London shows.

Crutchfield has released two albums – in 2012, American Weekend (solo acoustic, raw) won critical acclaim, and in 2013 Cerulian Salt (electroacoustic, slightly less raw though I’d wager Trevor Horn would probably want to polish it up) garnered much of the same. In April of this year, Crutchfield’s third recording Ivy Tripp is released in the UK and promises further development of Waxahatchee’s sound – an alternative sound that encompasses delicate folk and Nirvanaesque grunge at opposite ends of the scale. There will be a European tour in June featuring her full band, but for tonight, Waxahatchee is a solitary instrument affair, perfectly suited to this environment.

Waxahatchee - Katie Crutchfield performing at St Pancras Old Church 26/01/15 (Simon Reed 2015)

Waxahatchee – Katie Crutchfield performing at St Pancras Old Church 26/01/15 (Simon Reed 2015)

Support comes from Radiator Hospital in the form of the seminal element of that band, singer-songwriter Sam Cook-Parrott. No need for amplification here and Cook-Parrott’s voice, as expressive as it is dynamic, ricochets around the church. Aided by his acoustic guitar, and in the latter half of his set, by Katie’s sister Allison, he rips through a number of songs at a pace that doesn’t allow many pauses for breath. It’s well appreciated and is a nice appetiser for what is to follow.

Radiator Hospital performing at St Pancras Old Church, London 26/01/15 (Simon Reed 2015)

Radiator Hospital performing at St Pancras Old Church, London 26/01/15 (Simon Reed 2015)

The capacity of the church is only 120 but the place is so small that there’s seating for around half that with the remainder wedged in several standing rows at the back. Twenty minutes later, the congregation greeted Waxahatchee with warm applause and Crutchfield seemed genuinely humbled by the reception. She played through a progression of her studio works, including a selection from the new record – the decidedly lo-fi sound of the earlier recordings being replaced by a soaring vocal and guitar that truly benefitted from the acoustic environment.

 (Rockshot Images)

(Rockshot Images)

Allison returned again to the stage to sing harmony with her sister and the results were sublime. There was little interaction with the audience, the crowd given time to absorb the last before commencement of the next. A set of 13 delicately crafted songs, one encore, and Waxihatchee was gone. Crutchfield lay her guitar on the ground and disappeared into the vestry, the sound of an appreciative crowd left behind. A very modest performer; you feel Katie Crutchfield doesn’t truly believe how good she is. And she is.

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See all the images here:!/index/G0000_GhdLnT2O3c

Review and Photography by Simon Reed . Waxahatchee. St Pancras Old Church, London. 26th Jan 2015.

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