Gig review: Save The Children’s Christmas Tree Sessions at The Union Chapel

As well as being a frontrunner for the title of Muswell Hill’s hippest mum, former pop star and DJ Lauren Laverne has used a good dose of her considerable influence to round up an impressive array of talent to help raise funds for global charity Save The Children.

You could hardly move in the beautiful candle-studded Union Chapel for the acres of wool donned by eager fans for the charity’s official Christmas Jumper Day, all waiting to bathe in the goodwill glow of semi-acoustic treats.

Mulled wine flowed and mince pies were gobbled as Laverne’s line-up gifted us a few tantalising moments in their company.

Spiritualized’s plangent headline set, their first time in the venue and backed with string section and gospel singers, was four songs of uplifting cool, but even with a bewitching cover of Silent Night, they didn’t steal the show.

That accolade had to go to the graceful union of Elbow’s Guy Garvey and Myleene Klass on a battered piano. Offering three songs “tinged with sadness” but with “a purity of heart and a prettiness”, the highlight was a spine-tingling cover of Joni Mitchell’s River (“or Moany Bitchell as my friend Neil calls her,” offers Garvey in his trademark deadpan).

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Peppered between the acts was yet more top-drawer entertainment – The Thick Of It’s Chris Addison, broadcaster Stuart Maconie, stand-up chav Lee Nelson and Caitlin Moran all raised a smile during set changes.

Band Of Skulls proved themselves competent musicians, but could learn much from Fyfe Dangerfield, who previewed a new sweeping, poetic ballad dissecting the life-changing properties of love, while donning a Paddington Bear-style coat and scarf. A filling, heartwarming, life-affirming festive treat.

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4 stars

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