THE BEGINNING

Natasha Khan is ‘The Bride’ on her heart-breaking, conceptual fourth album – she debuted her new material in the most apt of surroundings.

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At Union Chapel, London, 16 May 2016

There is no better setting for someone possessed of the theatrical skill and the dramatic leanings of Natasha Khan to do her thing than the Union Chapel. With its vaulted arches and fading daylight flooding through the stained-glass windows it could have been made for her. Especially so tonight, when she performs almost the entirety of forthcoming fourth album ‘The Bride’ – an album which tells, in heartbreaking detail, the story of a woman whose fiancé dies in a car crash on the way to their wedding.

Khan has asked the ‘wedding guests’ in the audience to come to the show dressed for a ceremony; as the time approaches, organ music swells up and around the church, and the guests twist in the pews, craning their necks for a first sight of the bride. And then, finally, she makes her entrance, gliding slowly down the aisle in a blood red dress, clutching a bridal bouquet. It’s a superbly dramatic moment.

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And so the ceremony begins, kicking off with ‘I Do’, a simple and beautiful song composed of a harpsichord and Khan’s pure, trilling voice. She cuts a striking figure on stage, graceful and powerful before a candlelit pulpit. The new album is musically superb. ‘Joe’s Dream’ has a pounding tom drum like a deep heartbeat, and the song is flooded with emotion; it’s huge, and powerful. Khan is compelling as the lead character in her own story of tragedy. This performance is genuine storytelling through song, with subtle sound effects here and there in between songs; the screeching wheels and crashing metal of the groom’s car crash echoing around the venue early in the set. The show does feel very different to a straightforward gig.

Taken in the context of her previous work, ‘The Bride’ is perhaps a more musically straightforward album; there is a greater consistency of tone, and the strength of the songwriting is immense. ‘Sunday Love’ is fast-paced, intelligent pop, while the bittersweet piano ballad ‘I Will Love Again’, beautiful in its simplicity, closes out the main set.

With the wedding performance over, the party begins; an encore of oldies including an incredible performance of ‘Laura’, ‘What’s A Girl To Do’ and ‘Daniel’ ensues. The show ends, inevitably and justifiably, with a standing ovation, and Khan, the not-so-blushing bride, looks utterly radiant with happiness.

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