The last time I got my hair cut, the person doing it and I were talking about dating. She was getting married two days later to her childhood sweetheart and had never, therefore, really “dated”.
She imagined it as exciting as there is so much to learn about the other person. The obvious flip side of that coin is the nervousness of it turning in to a disaster.
Last night I went to see Gabrielle Aplin play at Manchester Cathedral. I knew some of her music from a while ago but not much else (which makes writing this post a little difficult!). It was still enough to metaphorically swap numbers and the venue had the potential to make it an interesting first date.
It wasn’t somewhere I’d have thought about going. Think of a cathedral and think about music and I think about organs and tradition. Manchester Cathedral was, though, a stunning place to get to know each other. You can’t always see each other perfectly given the number of pillars, but the acoustics are perfect, making conversation easy.
Gabrielle took to the stage in casual attire; I think she said it was only her second ever show wearing trainers. The set started quite slowly but picked up when she took time out to talk, seamlessly slipping in to a comfort zone on stage.
In a first date you’re looking for someone personable, friendly and with a sense of humour – someone you want to share time with, either down the pub or in other more involved pursuits. Whether it was reading the messages on her tea bags, group deep breathing, ruffling her hair between songs or somehow managing to bang her head on her guitar, you would be drawn in. And that’s before you even talk about the music.
Vocals were stunning throughout and the set was able to show off a wide range of influences, emotions and story telling, from new track Waking Up Slow to Stay and plenty of tracks inbetween.
I always think that calling someone “adorable” is a little condescending, although that’s probably dependent on tone and circumstance. With Gabrielle Aplin in this setting, it feels right.
A few years ago I saw Charlene Soraia support Andy Burrows. Soraia arguably found fame covering The Calling’s Wherever You Will Go for a Tetley tea advert. When I was telling people about my night, it’s easy to say, “she’s the person who covered The Power Of Love for the John Lewis advert the other Christmas”.
Gabrielle Aplin deserves far more than being known just for this. However, it was six songs in to a 16 song set that she sat behind a keyboard on her own and covered the Frankie Goes To Hollywood track, just words and music. I couldn’t see her perform, with a pillar blocking my view. Still, though, you were able to feel a connection.
The whole show was intimate but open, feeling like it was being performed for you but with very much a mutual enjoyment and willingness to let you in. I came away feeling like I’d got a good idea about who she was and loving what she does and wanting to learn more about her. I’d certainly be looking for a second date.