There have been several instances in the life of Henry Grace where the light at the end of the tunnel was music, a beacon to hang on to when life became too much to comprehend and depression filled the void. This week at The Lafayette, surely one of London’s outstanding musical venues, he became that light as he not only starred in but organised a magical night of music featuring Jamie Lawson and Elles Bailey alongside his considerable talent.
Last week’s performance was billed as Songs Through The Darkness and was performed in aid and conjunction with Help Musicians, dedicated mental health support line and service, Music Minds Matter, a charity that is there to help those working in music who are struggling to cope with anything, music or otherwise, that is affecting their mental wellbeing.
The night opened with Henry Grace who played a faultless set accompanied by special guest Blaine Harrison of the Mystery Jets. I last saw Henry play London’s Omeara venue and it was wonderful to see him play live again. Playing to raise awareness for a cause so close to his heart seemed to give him wings as he spoke eloquently and with real emotion about what the evening meant to him before he started to play his set. Every word he sang seemed infused with greater depth and provided the first of many hair on the back of the neck moments the evening would bring.
Following Henry on stage was one of our most acclaimed Americana Blues artists. Elles Bailey took to the stage accompanied only by Ash Tucker and I felt truly privileged to witness her voice in such a stripped back format; so stripped back in fact that her finale was to sing without the microphone to an awestruck audience who obviously felt the communion of the moment. To see a singer who I recently witnessed blow the roof off of her stage at the Black Deer Festival this summer felt like something really special. Proof, if proof were needed, of the quality of the artist.
To close out the evening Jamie Lawson took to the stage. Many will know Jamie for his worldwide smash hit ‘I Wasn’t Expecting That’ and his well known status as Ed Sheeran’s first signing to his record label Gingerbread Man Records but this is an artist just about to release his sixth album ‘Little Weaknesses’ after a four year hiatus and based on his performance the record is a must have. My personal stand out moment and one I will never forget is watching him sing his new song ‘When It Comes To Love’, a stunning track co written with Irish artists Megan O’Neill and Mark Caplice. The thing that made this super special is that Mark was in the audience watching the performance and standing next to me. Watching him enjoy the moment of seeing something he helped create, sing along and see the fantastic reaction the song received from the sold out Lafayette audience was a truly heartwarming moment and totally encapsulated for me everything the evening was about; the restorative powers of music.
There’s sometimes some confusion about the name of the publication I write for and people misinterpret the name Essentially Pop. It’s a statement of genre freedom not a box; all music is essentially pop, after all The Sex Pistols had no problem performing on Top of the Pops back in 1977. But, to concentrate on the word Pop is to miss the thing that stands out for me and that’s the word Essential because for me music is simply essential to my well being; to lose it would be inconceivable. What Henry Grace tapped into last week was exactly that. Music is a super power and it’s so important to support it so please check out the artists I’ve written about today because what they do is tap into their innermost feelings to help us understand ours. Help Musicians is an important cause but it should be a given for all of us…..please help musicians because they are the soundtrack to our lives.