Many would have expected church going is a very sober, strictly religious matter, but in fact there have been lots of live events held in churches in London each year. Last week we had Jeremy Messersmith and Tom Baxter at St Giles-in-the-Fields. Known as the Poets’ Church hidden in the midst of the vibrant West End, the historic venue has previously hosted performances by artists such as Bon Iver and Patti Smith. While not everyone agrees with commercial use of the churches by outside groups, St Giles-in-the-Fields is no doubt a beautiful, atmospheric space for music performances.
First heard of Jeremy Messersmith, the singer-songwriter from Minneapolis via NPR a while back, it is easy to fall in love with his music. Starting off from his well received debut album “The Alcatraz Kid”, Messersmith’s songcraft has always carried catchy, lifting melody with humorous, wry, and sometimes geeky lyrics. While he sings mostly about ups and downs in relationships, often some heartfelt words from a broken man, his music is melancholic in a sweet, lighthearted manner, that many can relate to and often put smiles on people’s faces. It is not a surprise that some of his songs has been featured in tv shows and film. His music not only captures the hearts of female listeners, but also the nerds as Messersmith himself admitted.
Messersmith appeared in his usual fashion for the night, smartly dressed with slicked-back hair and thick framed glasses, he did not strike you as a rock musician but a witty storyteller. He was on his own with his Martin acoustic guitar, performing in front of roughly a hundred audiences in this little venue, making it a very intimate experience. His soft, fluttering vocal together with his tender guitar sound created perfect harmony, somehow fitted well in this peaceful environment. He played a series of lovely tracks such as “Beautiful Children”, “Dead End Job”, “Violet” as audience requested, and “I Want To Be Your One Night Stand”, a short but really sweet song from his latest album “Heart Murmurs”. Contrast to the venue itself, Messersmith also performed ironically numerous death related songs like “A Girl, A Boy, And A Graveyard” from “The Reluctant Graveyard”, in which interestingly all songs are written in the perspective of the dead. Also on the set list was of course “Tatooine”, of which Star Wars themed video went viral when it was first released, receiving media attention nationwide. To finish the night, Messersmith stepped up close to the crowd without the microphone, whispering the romantic “Someday, Someone”, the last song of his latest album. The show overall might not be one of those mind blowing, extraordinary performances, but it was certainly a memorable evening filled with sweetness.
Also performing for the night as supporting guest was Tom Baxter. He was a pleasant surprise of the night as he appeared with impressive voice and sophisticated songcraft. This singer songwriter from Suffolk has been active in Britain’s independent and live music scenes since 2004. His long experience in songwriting and live performing from early age definitely showed in his performance that night. His singing technique was versatile, superb falsetto, dedicated and full of passion. Along with his soulful latin style guitar playing, Baxter performed some very emotional, heart tearing pieces like “Better”, “A Night Like This” and the beautiful “Boy Beneath the Stone”. It is much anticipated to see him gaining more recognition and hopefully some solo gigs ahead.
Get Messermsith’s new album on iTunes: