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Steve Lawson and Guests
St. Luke's Church, North London
17th November 2000

Transformed into an art installation for the evening by Sparks, the collective responsible for much of the art at this year's Greenbelt festival, and with sofas and chairs spread around the room to fit the installation, St. Luke's Church wasn't set up like a typical concert. But the atypical layout and the distributed focus suited Steve Lawson's chilled out music well.

Musically the evening was divided into three segments. The first consisted of Steve Lawson solo, mixing together tracks from his recent solo album, And Nothing But The Bass... with improvised amendments. For the second Lawson was joined by cellist Harry Napier and percussionist Mark Lloyd and the evening closed with a solo acoustic set from Andy Thornton. 

A concert where the music is not the primary focus, but instead shares it with other art forms can be a strange experience. In this case the laid back nature of Lawson's playing fitted well with the imagery and short film clips which were to be found around the church building, but the sound was certainly full enough to absorb the listener's attention. It was interesting to see the various loops which form the basis of each song building up and while the wide range of gadgets almost inevitably caused a couple of technical problems, the mix of experimental and jazz translated well to a live context.

The second part of the evening brought together pieces by both Lawson and Napier which made good use of the mesh of the three instruments. Napier's compositions were of a more classical bent to than Lawson's less formal pieces but they worked together well.

The move through to a smaller room for finale made for a more intimate atmosphere which well suited Andy Thornton's short acoustic set. Injecting his usual self-deprecating humor Thornton played a selection of now familiar songs from his Things You Never Say album. The guitar tone was a little harsh, but the songs showed their strength and made a fitting close to the evening.

The mix of elements and strength of the music on show at St. Luke's made for an interesting and truly multimedia experience. The quality of the music was consistently high and made for an involving and entertaining evening.

James Stewart is a writer, web-designer and student based near London, UK. He co-ordinates the Greenbelt Festival's website and runs the Britlinks website, dedicated to Christian involvement in British and Irish music.

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