Never Fade Records have been running monthly acoustic live sessions in central London, but their biggest gig so far was a Christmas party held on December 7 and it was just magical. “I never feel Christmassy,” said Gabrielle Aplin, but it’s hard to believe, because she managed to create a very cozy and festive show at Union Chapel.
Never Fade is a London-based independent record label, founded by Gabrielle. With the goal to discover and develop new talents, the label is also a platform, helping young artists launch their debut records.
Some of the artists, who have been releasing music on the label, or who have played on its live sessions, performed in this annual Never Fade’s Christmas concert. From more famous names, such as Hannah Grace, Hudson Taylor and Gabrielle Aplin herself, to debuting talents Hali, Sonny, and Callum Beattie.
Besides the inevitable boost of Christmas mood, the show was also a great opportunity to find some new musicians to follow and watch them grow. Of course, live performances and studio records are often just incomparable, but hopefully, you’ll also discover somebody to add to your playlist after reading this review.
The first artist of the show, Hali, delivered a wonderful stripped-down performance, revealing her talent of playing not only a guitar and piano, but also a traditional Irish drum Bodhran. Surprisingly, one instrument is all artist needs to accompany her rich emotional voice. Almost heart-breaking Hali’s music set a calm, nostalgic atmosphere and was an ideal start for the show.
Sonny, a young and charismatic R&B/soul-influenced musician, continued the romantic theme and played a few tracks from his debut EP Hopeless Romance, as well as the newest “Yesterday’s Gone“.
Charming voice, intriguing songs’ structure and lyrics, melting girls’ hearts, felt like we’ve heard his music before, like he’s been playing Sam Smith or Bruno Mars covers. However the only cover was “What’s Up” by 4 Non Blondes. For a fans of vocals with many soulful “runs and riffs” – high recommendations to check out the original Sonny’s tracks.
The third performer was Edinburgh artist Callum Beattie with a backing vocalist/guitarist. The duo brought in some more volume to the show with two guitars and catchy choruses.
The studio versions of Callum’s songs feel much more pop than the folk-ish live sound, but some of the tracks are a must to check out: such as “We Are Stars“, “Man Behind The Sun” or “Some Heroes Don’t Wear Capes“.
One of the first Never Fade Records’ artists, Welsh singer Hannah Grace also performed some of her songs. Her incredibly powerful vocals proved why Lady Gaga once called her a “superstar”.
Hannah has shared many covers on her Youtube page and one of them – “Praise You” by Fatboy Slim has been featured in a Lloyds Bank advertising campaign. The full band helped the artist to reveal all her power and to shake the walls of Union Chapel.
Two brothers from Dublin, Harry and Alfie, or Hudson Taylor, took the stage with a rock’n’roll vibe and lifted up the energy level.
They call themselves a folk-rock duo and they’ve been working with Ryan Hadlock, best known for his work with The Lumineers and Vance Joy, as well as Ruadhri Cushnan, known for Mumford & Sons, Ed Sheeran.
Hudson Taylor’s track “Don’t Know Why” was one of those that stayed stuck in the head long after the show and the crowd was very enthusiastic to learn the chorus by heart.
All of the acts led to the most anticipated Gabrielle Aplin set.
With a voice of an angel and absolute honesty, Gabrielle performed some of her most famous tracks, such as “Home” or Frankie Goes to Hollywood‘s cover “Power Of Love“, which was featured in one of the John Lewis Christmas Adverts. She also shared a beautiful version of her latest single “Waking Up Slow“.
The show was concluded with a massive performance by almost all of the artists who showed up on the stage that night. A few Christmas songs and “With A Little Help Of My Friends” by The Beatles were performed to leave the audience with a festive sparkle in their souls.
Overall, the 3-hour concert felt like Never Fade wanted to show everything they made in the last year, but the well-played dramaturgy of the show and the happy and shining musicians didn’t let it be boring.
Check out some music from the performers below: