Seeing Dashboard Confessional sing live, in a small church, is an experience accompanied by an almost poetic irony in the sense that there’s a feeling of being blessed – both by his talent and his focus on you, the crowd.

It’s always interesting seeing artists perform in smaller venues. There’s a different tension in the air, an anticipation and intimacy that’s almost palpable. You start to feel like you’re part of an intimate club, that this artist is a secret that few know about. No matter how popular, how long their career, intimate venues always feel exclusive and selective, and it’s thrilling.

St Pancras Old Church is about as small and intimate as venues get, with a 120 maximum capacity and a penchant for leaving crowds with a feeling of peace; whether or not that’s to do with the artist or the setting is up for debate. Dimly lit, with the typical old church smell and an intricate altarpiece the place is stunning. And yet as soon as Chris walks on stage and picks up the guitar he becomes the most captivating thing in the room.

Coming on after Cory Wells (whose talent deserves an entire article to itself), with no introduction the first song starts. In the small space, one man and his guitar becomes the sole focus of everyone in the room, and for good reason. With powerful vocals and an interesting and intelligent lyrical style, his talent is impossible to ignore. A mixture of indie rock, emo and alt all rolled into one stunning package, his music resonates on a nostalgic level whilst also being contemporary. Performing vocal switches and holding notes in a way rarely seen or heard live, Chris – Dashboard Confessional – is undoubtedly one of the best live artists you’ll see.

There is no set list. Something that throws you off, once the first song is over and the introductions are made. Instead, the audience is consulted in between songs. With the general consensus dictating the night, you get the impression that the gig is for you.  It is tailored, performed, completely in existence so that you can enjoy it. After a sarcastic comment regarding a particular request- taken as a joke by everyone – Chris then apologises and performs the song. And in an art form where musicians are often elevated and out of reach, it’s refreshing to see someone so intent on pleasing his fans.

By the end of the second song the crowd are confident in shouting out requests. By the end of the third, they’re singing backing vocals, complete with harmonies and its undeniable that this is their gig. It’s their songs, their feelings and thoughts in the lyrics that fill the dimly lit, close quarters of the church, just as much as they are his. And it’s beautiful to see.

As Lovers Go‘, and ‘Stolen‘ elicit the best responses from the crowd. From the get go, voices repeatedly ask for the two to be played. And, happy to comply, the chords are played, the song starts and the crowd is immediately pacified.

Considering the show is completely acoustic – two men each playing their songs with a guitar and nothing else – at no point do you feel like you’re missing out. The sheer talent, energy of the crowd and the single cover (‘Sex‘ by The 1975 ) is enough to keep you interested and focused.

As gigs go, it’s hard not to think of the crowd and their genuine happiness when trying to sum it up.  A talented musician, with a dedicated fan base – some of whom had travelled specifically for the show – Dashboard Confessional might have been one of the best shows we’ve seen in a long time.

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