Adem/Maggie8/Alisia Casper – The Basement, York, 3rd March 2016 1

Adem/Maggie8/Alisia Casper – The Basement, York, 3rd March 2016

“Everybody needs some help sometimes”. As this evening’s headliner Adem is joined on stage by Mark and Matt from principal support act Maggie8, the three men belt out the refrain to Adem’s ‘These Are Your Friends’. Taken from the South London musician’s debut solo album, 2004’s Homesongs, it strikes a deep resonance with the entire evening.

This is the first show in local promoter Let’s Go Baboon’s ambitious programme of 10 events in 5 cities which aims to raise awareness and money for Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM). CALM is a charity dedicated to preventing male suicide, the biggest single killer in the United Kingdom of men between the ages of 20 and 45.

The primary purpose of the evening is brought into even sharper relief two songs earlier when Adem performs ‘Cut’. Also taken from his debut album, ‘Cut’ evokes incredibly strong memories for Adem of Vince Sipprell who had previously played on this song. Vince Sipprell, best known for his brilliant viola playing and association with the Elysian Quartet and duo Geese, passed away in January of last year having taken his own life. As the song draws to a close it leaves a yawning chasm; one incredibly poignant moment in an evening that is full of contrasting moments.


Yet for all of the sadness that the evening and its subject matter evokes, it is also a time of great fortitude and no little fun. Opening act Alisia Casper captures the mood of indefatigable strength. Clearly unwell, the Leeds-based artist holds absolutely everything together across a very special 6-song set. With tales laced with vulnerable introspection and wounded intensity, experiencing Casper in concert is like watching some high-wire act perform without the aid of a safety net. It is breath-taking.

By deep contrast, the Leeds four-piece Maggie8 infuse the evening with fun, frivolity and a little flirtation. Drawn mostly from last year’s album मैगी८ and as its title may well suggest, their songs combine a flavour of 90’s Bollywood with singular indie-pop. This joyful fusion is no more apparent than on the closing ‘Bombay’ where the Asian influence of singer Nivedita Pisharoty is at its greatest. But long before they have reached this point the band demonstrate their keen musical versatility – as each member regularly swap instruments – and ability to craft a strong, melodic popular song. The three-part harmonies on ‘Another Time’ and the soaring infection of ‘Top of the Lake’ are really rather divine.


But the undoubted star of the evening is Adem. Like some supreme sonic alchemist and with the aid of only his guitar and voice he carefully converts his songs into beautifully wide-open soundscapes. He introduces ‘Statued’ as one of the first songs he ever wrote and the one that made him “want to make music that wasn’t just instrumental post-rock” (in so doing making an oblique reference to Fridge, the band he formed back in 1995 with school friends Kieran Hebden (of Four Tet fame) and Sam Jeffers).

Adem also uses the occasion to showcase material from last year’s Seconds Are Acorns, his first album of original material in a decade. Two songs from it – ‘Snow In April’ and ‘A Silvering’ – not only join the dots between the Echoplex sound of John Martyn’s ‘Small Hours’ and the occasional purity of Jeff Buckley’s posthumous release Sketches (For My Sweetheart the Drunk) but also takes it to some compelling spatial point that exists way beyond. To then hear Adem’s quite magnificent reading of Low’s ‘Laser Beam’ makes us feel we really are witnessing something very special indeed.

Then with ‘These Are Your Friends’ the show ends, bringing to a close an evening of mixed emotions. It has been happy, it has been sad. It has been intense and it has been occasionally light-hearted. But ultimately it has brought home the ephemeral nature of life, the flawed beauty of it, the necessity to preserve it wherever we can and the deep sense of unity and strength that such occasions can bring.


Photo credit: Simon Godley

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.