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Up From Below #12: Christian Lee Hutson, Mill Hill Chapel and Diners
The North's best newsletter goes to church
Welcome back! I hope you’re having a good summer. I’m fresh off a couple of weeks break from writing the newsletter and ready to go with a gig report in a lovely new venue, and some quality recommendations in both Discovery Corner and this issue’s playlist, which is wall to wall summer bangers (plus a slower one from Future Islands).
Christian Lee Hutson at Mill Hill Chapel
The gig diary has been properly barren the past few weeks, owing to the stacked festival lineups around the country and the fact it’s simply too hot in any venue I’m bothered about stepping in for acts to actually turn up. The exception this week was a bit of a festival warmup gig for Christian Lee Hutson, a singer-songwriter based in LA who came to Leeds on Saturday.
His style of storytelling through lyrics is ridiculously engaging, and the setting of Mill Hill Chapel, a unitarian church in the very centre of Leeds, was a glorious place to see him perform. Opening up were Brighton-based duo Memorial who were a perfect accompaniment.
Hutson himself is somewhat of an enigma, having apparently released two solo albums before 2020’s Beginners which aren’t available to listen to, unless, presumably, you’re very cool and live in California. Whilst it’s very easy to draw comparisons between Hutson and his mate Phoebe Bridgers (her and songwriting partner Conor Oberst have produced and appeared on a lot of his streamable stuff), the honest, meticulously crafted feel to all of Hutson’s songs really set him apart and it translates perfectly in a live setting. It’s a laidback performance, but with choruses like “Is it so unforgivable to wander off the course / We had a pretty good run but I just can't fucking do it anymore” being sung at you, you’re not looking for flashy.
Despite the heft in the songs, it was a pretty loose affair, with CLH choosing to cover Taylor Swift’s “betty” in the encore and generally treating the interludes between songs as time to riff on religion, Argos, and cocaine. A good time was had by all in God’s presence.
Back on the topic of the venue itself, as I’ve covered before in the newsletter, the real holy grail for this sober gig-goer is free water available on the bar, without needing to queue against the masses waiting for their pints to be poured. Big tick for the Chapel on this one.
Plus, it’s a non-profit venue anyway, so if you do happen to be partaking in some booze, it’s cheap, and going towards just the event costs with any extra profits going to charity. So really, if you see a gig on the calendar here and you don’t go, you’re stealing from charity. Nice one mate, hope you’re proud.
If you see an act you’re remotely interested in (or even someone you’ve never heard of) is planning a show at Mill Hill Chapel, it’s an absolute must if you call yourself a Northern live music fan. It’s a million miles away from your O2 Academy’s of this world, and all the better for it.
I’ve been listening to this non-stop since it came out on Friday. Diners is the project of Blue Broderick, a true guitar-pop master who has crafted this really simple, infectious “friendly pop” album that is really scratching something for me at the minute.
It’s bringing the summer vibes that England’s weather system is currently failing to provide, it’s very much top-down neighbourhood-cruising music, if that’s something that happened on this dreary island.
The Walkmen at Project House, Tuesday 22nd August
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