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Copyright Nick Morgan and crew

Concert Review by Nick Morgan

Cadogan Hall, Sloane Square, London, November 18th 2008

If you’re a frequent visitor to Sloane Square then you’ll no doubt be familiar with the Cadogan Hall which lies just to the north on Sloane Terrace. If like me, you’d rather not go to Chelsea, then the building would no doubt surprise you as much as it did me. Designed in the early twentieth century by Robert Fellowes Chisholm, who spent much of his career working in India where he pioneered a style of architecture known as Indo-Saracenic (it would be easy, though incorrect, to describe it as ‘Moorish’), which sits uneasily with the grand residential terraces of South West London.

Cadogan Hall
It was built for Mary Baker Eddy’s Church of Christ, Scientist. According to the Photographer she was Duane Eddy’s mother. The church originally housed large congregations before falling into disuse and disrepair in the 1990s, when it was rescued by the Cadogan Estates, becoming the home of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. Inside, the huge arched space is somewhat reminiscent of the Royal Horticultural Hall, though it doesn’t share the latter’s brutish concrete modernism. Instead the Indian influences evident in the exterior are still present – the décor is a stark white, and on both floors the seating is church style, highly polished, wooden benches. And the acoustics are simply fantastic. “How’s the sound out there?”, asks Roddy Frame half way through his performance, “It’s just brilliant up here”. He looks as though he could stay up there listening to his guitar all night.
Last time I reviewed Roddy Frame my editor chastised me for exceeding my strictly-monitored superlative allowance, and so for a detailed account of this show I will refer you to that review. Not that the set list was the same; this was more of an extensive trawl through Frame’s substantial back catalogue (I’m going to play you some songs I don’t normally get to sing”), with far less emphasis on his more recent albums, Surf, and particularly the brilliant Western Skies. I’m not sure that Frame was better here – although the sound of his booming guitar was quite remarkable and certainly far superior to anything the old Bush could hope to produce, even at its very best. And I should add that his voice was not too far behind. Frame was relaxed and chatty – one could almost have been in his living room (though the scale of the venue did detract from the sense of intimacy) – and was particularly happy to see his chum Edwyn Collins, who was sitting with his son a couple of rows from us. I’ll leave it at that. Needless to say, you’re commended to buy his more recent albums, and if you have a hole in your collection you should stock up with the best of Aztec Camera, Frame’s band of the 80s and 90s. And as for your Christmas shopping, well if any you have got any spare cash – unlikely I know in these challenged times – but if you have, you could always buy me this wonderful Freshman twelve-string guitar. I’m sure Mr Frame played one during this gig, and let me tell you the sound was, as befits the setting, without imperfection. - Nick Morgan (photographs by Kate) Roddy Frame
Listen: Roddy Frame's MySpace page

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