Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Keaton Henson and Wall live @ The Cinema Museum

Buried deep in-between Elephant and Castle and Kennington, the Cinema Museum is hardly surrounded by a plethora of noteworthy venues, but once you find it, your reward awaits. On the walls, hundreds of posters from movies gone by, figures and reels from the most iconic of cinema eras and a vast array of old cameras. It’s a visual feast from the off and in the large upstairs room where the show is to be held, there’s cake, pastries and a bar, making it a consumable feast also.

Opening the night’s audible enjoyment is Wall. With a string of recent material emerging of late, Wall’s delicate pop brew is bubbling with potential. Mid level lighting illuminates the relatively unknown artist’s makeshift stage as the likes of debut single “Magazine” pulse through the relics and members of the audience alike. As far as support acts go, you could hardly find a more fitting one. Autumn night, borderline rustic venue and the elusive Keaton Henson headlining; Wall more than aptly fit the soothing bill.

After Wall’s politely beautiful set comes to a close and the crowd have had a little time to traverse catering and fixtures, it’s time for Keaton Henson. Cellist Ren Ford takes to the stage to begin and plays two Bach melodies as an elongated introduction to Henson’s melancholy  tracks. A man who lives out of the spotlight, and doesn’t give interviews; the last time I saw Henson, he was so stage shy he played through a projection into a birdhouse, but tonight he looks more comfortable (he’s in the room for a start) in his own skin.
His interaction with the crowd kept to a minimum in between tracks mostly taken from last year’s debut record, what he does say is engaging in his endearingly shy way. Usually if an artist were to tell you they wanted to go home, you’d be offended, but from Henson, visibly unsettled by his own popularity (both of these nights of around 150 seats sold out in minutes), it seems like yet another part of his charm. This charm is, of course mostly built out of his painfully relatable heartbreak music and the seeming abyss of emotion that seeps out as such from his acoustic guitar but when joined by folk trio The Staves, everything seems lighter for just a few minutes.

The music isn’t so much weighty as the kind of sound that has the danger of putting you into a numb coma as all of your feelings blend into one of content and as Henson plays a few new songs, equally as personal but slightly more aware of his standing and the regard that many now hold him in, all present are lifted out of it and further into his hopefully less tormented soul. As the night comes to an end you realise that if music is Henson’s therapy, audiences are the therapist he doesn’t really want to see but desperately needs to and as he bares his soul, an hour at a time, he’s getting better at it. Here’s hoping that he does so more often.

Braden Fletcher

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