Oneohtrix Point Never, Nico Mulhy and James McVinnie

Union Chapel

Three distinctive musicians from very different backgrounds coming together beneath one pretty impressive wooden church roof; collaborating, improvising and helping each other out with their respective renditions. “A big fun mess” is how Nico Muhly explained his brainchild in the press release. Not entirely encouraging but the reputation of the three players (mostly Oneohtrix) was certainly enough to get butts on the precipitous pews of Highbury’s spectacular Union Chapel.

Apart from those who may have seen it at the Holland Festival the first time round, the rest of us hadn’t a clue what to expect. The setting was certainly calm and relaxing though. As people were finding their chosen vantage points, James McVinnie was already working on some soothing chords on the huge, 137-year-old organ hidden at the back of the stage. An arrangement of candles to the right of altar and a blanket of dry ice had the church looking like the set of a Meatloaf video, which we were down with. As the lights dimmed, Nico and Oneohtrix arrived on stage and opened with a Nico composition followed by Oneohtrix’s Boring Angel, the arpeggios played beautifully by Nico on keys.

Unfortunately this was one of only a handful of moments where the collaboration seemed to be really vital. Oneohtrix’s involvement for the most part felt tenuous, as though he’d been drafted in as an afterthought almost solely on the basis that his latest album R Plus Seven has organs on it. A bit of a shame as both the other performers showed unquestionable talent and vision and actually have more in common than they gave credit. Perhaps Oneohtrix stealing the show was inevitable but he really did. That said, this was certainly a one of a kind show and worth it for that alone. Plus it was a, clearly labeled, experiment from the get go, one which still has potential to bare some juicier fruit in future.