Another day, another Christmas extravaganza in our fair city. This time we’ve swapped dancefloors sticky with beer and piss for the sombre echoiness of Sheffield Cathedral. Even better, the surroundings really make you up your Christmas gig game, with Kid Conventional, David J Roch and See Emily Play all performing a few yuletide faves each. On the plus side, angry drunks don’t watch gigs in churches.
Kid Conventional is first up, up against the cavernous anticipation of a crowd chilly and half cut. You could absolutely fall asleep to his rendition of ‘In The Bleak Midwinter’ and I mean that in the best possible way. Without a band to help him, it’s just Kid and his guitar winding his way around a selection of acoustic songs with the confidence and ease, whether he’s circumventing a tricky folk finger pattern or singing his heart all the way to Ecclesall Road.
But David J Roch wayn’t be out done mind! Boom, straight into a tonsil-shredding take on ‘The Angel Gabriel’ in a falsetto so startlingly feminine that David has just made Aled Jones his bitch. After that show-stopper (at the beginning of the set!) David takes things down a notch, working his way through his own rootsy repertoire with the help of his backing band, showing off an ear for a chart-bothering chorus. And a special shout-out goes to his multi-instrumentalist pal (tonight playing keyboard, trumpet and tambourine) who’s rocketed up the chart on the back of a charity single. David also wrote a new song not that long ago. Unfortunately its called ‘Wreaking Ball’.
For such a stripped down concert with hardly any pyro, things are getting later and later. Having almost passed on in the last interval, See Emily Play is just the tonic, with her perky piano pop and heartfelt balladry being a welcome break from the all-male of the last two acts. With a smile as broad as the surroundings, Emily Ireland veers from Fiona Apple indebted piano rock to delicate, lovelorn lyrics that would make Regina Spektor well jell. It’s so intimate it feels like Emily’s playing to you at home and you live in a church; win win. About the only thing I can’t stomach now is the walk home.