Live Review: Union Chapel, London, March 2 2020
Monday March 2 saw new charity Beder put on a gig at London’s Union Chapel, headlined by oud-playing trio Le Trio Joubran, with support from London-based singer-songwriter JJ Draper.
Beder are a new charity who have curated a programme of events aimed at “softly” raising awareness around the important causes of mental health and suicide prevention, and this gig last week was the charity’s largest event to date. Proceeds from Beder’s events go towards mental health awareness and suicide prevention, also helping to fund their new partner charities, Young Minds and Samaritans.
Last Monday saw over 700 people – from local communities, to friends and family, to fans of the artists, and ambassadors of Beder, Young Minds and Samaritans – come together to share in a love of music and passion for the charity and the causes it supports. With a headline set from Le Trio Joubran and support from JJ Draper, the evening was purely magical. After meeting with the charity last year, I was honoured to be helping with their evening at Union Chapel; here’s how it played out…
As the final hours passed by, I jumped on board to help finish setting up the Beder merchandise table – packed full of handcrafted jewellery, notebooks, and Palestinian dates, all raising money for Beder – while watching Le Trio Joubran and JJ Draper in soundcheck. Echoing through the atmospheric church building, the artists’ filled the empty space with a dreamlike soundscape. Excitement within the venue started to mount, and next thing we knew, hundreds of ticket holders had formed a queue down the street, all uniting for a love of music, passion for the cause, and to support the charity. The energy was heightening; the loving family, friends and supporters of the charity and artists were smiling, laughing and preparing to welcome and entertain the crowds; and then, the heavy doors of the old church building opened.
Eager fans of Le Trio Joubran began piling through the entrance, down the aisles, and to their seats overlooking the impressive, awe-inspiring stage illuminated in the atmospheric, dim light of the chapel by gentle strobes and spotlights. As the seats filled, and the crowd quietened, the show began…
JJ Draper and his band were first to take to the stage. The London-based multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter (who we were lucky to catch live at his headline show at The Grace last month) last released music in 2018, so this show at Union Chapel certainly marked what an exciting year 2020 is set to be for the artist who is planning to release a new EP this summer.
Beginning with Theft and the Flight before playing a fan favourite Gwythian, and following with Of Precisely Nothing, and Awake in the Night, JJ Draper garnered the attention of the entire venue with his emotive, intimate lyrics, dreamlike compositions, and sorrowful, yearning vocals. The hundreds of people in the audience disappeared as the lights went down, and when the music softly started, only JJ and his band were illuminated within the building’s mystical architecture, stood surrounded by glimmers of stained glass surrounding a smoky stage. JJ’s vocals echoed, effortlessly carried throughout the venue and up into the seemingly infinite vaulted ceilings reaching into a vast expanse of darkness.
The penultimate song in the set was a special one. JJ introduced it with an anecdote, telling the crowd that he wrote it after a conversation with none other than Razzak Mirjan, founder of the charity Beder. The concept of having to help yourself before being able to help anyone else was what stood out for JJ from that conversation last year, using the analogy that airplanes always say to fit your own oxygen mask before helping anyone else to fit theirs. And so, the song titled Beder was born. The venue was silent, many close to tears I am sure, as the songwriter’s honesty and empathy shone.
Over too soon leaving the crowd wanting more, JJ Draper ended his set on Zero-Sum, one of his most well-known tracks. The artist has described the song as being “about emotional dislocation, regret and apology” when a relationship ends, in which he “pieces together and adopts the lessons that needed learning, to process the guilt and fractured memories in the songs into something coherent”. Ending on a high, JJ’s music, whilst emotional and often sorrowful, is inspiring and spiritually uplifting, a perfect match for the venue and the cause of the night, and entirely successful in captivating the audience in preparation for the performance from Le Trio Joubran to follow.
After a short interlude, Razzak Mirjan – founder of the charity Beder, who were hosting the evening – took some time to address the audience.
Speaking from the heart, the founder explained the origins of the charity, speaking honestly of his younger brother Beder who passed away from suicide in 2017, and talking with passion of the future steps the charity will take to raise awareness around mental health and suicide prevention, before going on to thank the musicians and everyone in attendance for their support.
The love, compassion and empathy filling Union Chapel at this moment was unbreakable and made the evening all the more inspiring, paving the way for everyone to enjoy the breathtaking headline performance to come from Le Trio Joubran.
Joining forces with new mental health charity Beder, Le Trio Joubran were next to take to the stage, much to the excitement of eager fans who had packed Union Chapel, one of London’s most beautiful live music venues.
The oud playing trio hailing from Nazareth are world-renowned for their atmospheric performances of traditional Palestinian music, and their performance at Union Chapel did not disappoint.
One of the most powerful performances I’ve witness so far this year, the three brothers Samir, Wissam and Adnan Joubran – dressed identically in white shirts, black trousers and black shoes – displayed their mastery of the oud, playing beautifully complex pieces effortlessly to the London crowd who were showering the musicians with cheers. With orchestral, atmospheric compositions and off-hand improvisation – seeing all three brothers playing on just one of the Arabic lutes at the close of the show – Le Trio Joubran put on an exciting show that was both visually and auditorily mesmerising.
Attracting a diverse crowd, young and old, it was clear to see why so many people love the trio. Playing music from their latest album The Long March, produced by Renaud Letang (Björk, Matt Corby, Lianne La Havas), Le Trio Joubran were joined on stage by a band to accompany the oud with an array of synths, piano, flute, and strings. That being said, the way in which the trio have perfected the oud and mastered a unique style allows for their instrument of choice to remain centre stage and need no embellishment. Spontaneous, joyous and full of energy, Le Trio Joubran executed a world class performance anyone would have felt privileged to witness, and were the perfect conclusion to an evening full of positivity and love.
It has been over a week since seeing Le Trio Joubran and JJ Draper at Union Chapel for Beder. The gig exceed my expectations, and left everyone with a smile and warm heart. Between the charity, the music, and the people in attendance, the evening was beautiful, it was emotional as it was for an extremely important cause, and it was still enjoyable, fun and exciting. JJ Draper delivered a thoughtful set, amping up anticipation for what is to come from him in 2020. Le Trio Joubran were mesmerising, creating a magical experience and leaving everyone on a high. What an evening, and what a lovely reminder of how much good there is in the world!