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Venue: St George's church
Town: Esher, Surrey
Date: 11/11/18

The vision of the Church Conservation Trust is for the buildings in their care to be enjoyed by everyone for their art, architecture, history and culture. To do this, they seek to engage and inspire the communities surrounding these spaces. What better way could there be to achieve this than developing a partnership with one of the folk world’s most vibrant and dynamic duos, India Electric Co.

In association with the CCT, India Electric Co. will be performing a series of unplugged candlelit shows that take their work to a wider rural audience. Having recently completed a cycle of three recordings that explore the contrasting nature of Country and City, taking this music that draws on traditional tunes and themes to its spiritual home within rural communities seems fitting.

We were privileged to enjoy one of the first concerts in this preview tour at Esher where the duo really began to explore the acoustic possibilities of the space with an unplugged rendition of Beirut from the gallery above the nave. Matching each other seamlessly both rhythmically and dynamically, the opening number demonstrated the intuitive communication between Cole and Joe that seems to border on telepathy. Hearing the instruments with such immediacy without the additional amplification of a standard concert added a sense of intimacy, and their natural warmth as performers gave the impression of a private front room concert, albeit augmented by the amazing surroundings of the ancient church. Under a roof raised in the reign of King Henry VIII, IEC ably demonstrated what these buildings still have to offer, especially at a time when performers are calling out for such platforms.

It would be too easy to review the concert like an album, noting everything from nuanced arrangements and well crafted songwriting, to rich textured sounds and energetic flourishes both in the vocal crescendos and racing traditional tunes. It is more important here, however, to encourage you to seek out one of IEC’s live shows in these ancient places to witness first hand the ever changing soundscapes they can conjure in these stunning surroundings. Joe’s incredible violin technique rivals any of the great fiddlers of the folk movement for tone and colour, and his multi-instrumental abilities, especially his piano skills, will keep any audience enthralled. Add to that Cole’s intensity through the lyrical material, and his rhythmic guitar motifs, and you will undoubtedly leave with a new favourite.

Words: Leo MacKenzie

Photos: Jo Elkington

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