Smith & Burrows Live Review
Union Chapel, London – 12th December
What a rubbish night! It is wet, windy and freezing. Even many glasses of mulled wine have failed to keep us warm. Our temperatures are raised however once we enter the grand interior of the Union Chapel.
The festive cheer is palpable as people eagerly anticipate tonight’s performance from indie troubadours Tom Smith (lead singer of Editors) and Andy Burrows (former drummer of Razorlight and I Am Arrows mainman). This unlikely partnership has seen the pair join forces to combine an obvious love of classic Christmas songs with their indie pedigree to record Funny Looking Angels. It is an impressive Christmas album. A wistful collection of original songs and some reimagined covers; all given some subtle yuletide treatment. It is a delicate album and one you will not hear being played whilst jostling through the Christmas shopping mob at the mall.
Pulling up a pew – quite literally – we look down from the balcony at the huddling audience, Christmas decorations and the intimate stage.
Led on by the handsomely lanky Smith who perches on a wooden chest, the band open with a wonderfully slow burning cover of Black’s Wonderful Life before upping the tempo with the title track Funny Looking Angels that sees Burrows’ trade his sweet vocals against Smith’s mournful baritone.
Being members of arguably two of the most successful bands of the naughties indie boom, the pair gift the audience some stripped back renditions of their respective bands’ back catalogue. Editors classic Papillon and Razorlight’s superhit America (which Burrows’ modestly proclaims he wrote) are played with beautiful restraint as the audience listen on, quietly appreciating the intimacy of the night. It almost feels as if Smith and Burrows could be strumming and playing piano in a cosy corner of a twee pub whilst we clap and merrily sing along. That is the vibe of the album and is exquisitely realised in tonight’s performance.
The covers continue with The Longpigs On and On (which makes my Christmas) before the duo disappears from stage, only to return adorned with large angel wings - it could almost be pantomime. There is playfulness to the proceedings – even down to Burrows’ comedy Christmas socks. Despite the ballardering and melancholic tone of the songs there is a real sense that this Christmas project is simply two mates having some jolly good fun and encouraging the enthralled audience’s participation.
The festivities are brought to a conclusion with some quiet introspection. As The Snowflakes Fall and This Ain’t New Jersey fill the beautiful Chapel’s rafters before the couple finish the night with the outstanding When The Thames Froze; warming even the most po-face indie Scrooge.
Mike "Lunging" Currell