Keaton Henson - 'Gloaming' - Blackall Studios, London 20/03/12
I'm probably being swift to remark that Keaton Henson's one of the most remarkable acts I've ever seen live, mainly because, well, as of yet, I haven't actually, technically, seen him live. But one thing's for certain, I'm definitely not understating that remark. Keaton's remarkable charm fulfils all your guilty acoustic pleasures in a mere two minute performance, but that's not the story I'm telling. For this one of guilt, and seedy pleasure.. of the folk kind, of course, as if you were thinking anything else?
Amongst a dimly lit cellar of Shoreditch's chic and unordinary Blackall Studios, fans smooch lips for the chance to be touched by Keaton's blues; a blues so twisted and unordinary that it feels wistful amongst a highly oversubscribed acoustic market. Beer flows and artwork is idly admired, but there's only one thing being waited for here, and that's the chance to experience Keaton, playing to you, one on one.
It feels a little seedy, being led up a stairwell to a room baring only white washed walls, sketches and an exhibition piece in the centre. You're told to put headphones on, sit beside the exhibition piece, and place your face into the hole, and you'd be right in thinking you're just about to fulfil a filthy act - one of pure greed, lust and want. One I felt a little guilty to receive, but one you'll never forget. The deep guilt you feel inside you wants Keaton to share his soul with you, and he does, happily, sitting upon a stool staring out at you. You sit, you wait, he plays, and your hearts broken – all in less than five minutes. And then you're left, without any means to cope with your own guilty treat. You spend your time, post performance, realising that you'll never get to see an experience that parallels this. And that's the real shame here, that something so perfect, is broken by its own perfection. But such is life's paradox, and such is Keaton's love affair with the guitar.
Keaton's a love story painted on the face of a petrified young man, scared of his own creativity. For a man who's frightened so deeply of performing live, he charms like the touch of a bountiful prince. Be it, one who wears a tattered suit, and raggedy beard.