Hit heavy, semi-acoustic gig

Union Chapel is one of the few music venues in the UK where they sell coffee and ice cream over any type of alcoholic beverage. However, Union Chapel is also one of the few music venues that music fans remember with a certain fondness. It has been home to special appearances and beautifully simplistic acoustic gigs.

Tonight, it is down to Athlete to provide a memorable evening – not only for their fans, but for the chapel’s impressive history and reputation. And starting off with ‘Half Light’, it becomes clear that the set isn’t as stripped-back as the acoustic-titled tour is supposed to be.

The acoustics of the chapel enhance Joel’s beautifully smooth and pitch-perfect voice. He looks at home, laughing and joking with the crowd and making them feel as if they’re sat in their living room with him.

The crowd is here for the hits, and Athlete certainly delivers: playing massive singles ‘Tourist’, ‘Hurricane’ and ‘El Salvador’.

The only problem with Union Chapel is that however charming it is to sit on the pews and take in a nice show, there’s a part of you that feels a bit wrong that you’re not standing up. Joel seemed to agree, getting the crowd to stand up towards the end.

As soon as the piano intro starts for ‘Wires’, everyone is ready to sing along – and it’s a stunner for sure. With the audience engaged, the echo in the church makes it sound twice as beautiful.

Athlete finish with ‘Chances’, and from the look on their faces, the band really don’t want to leave that stage. Joel informing the crowd: “It’s been our dream to play here.” And tonight they’ve done themselves proud.

As they walk off the stage and give a final wave to the crowd, it’s clear they will be back soon. And while we wait, there’s a recording of tonight’s gig being edited and pressed as you read.

Words by Sophie Williams

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