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Gig Review: Ray Cooper at Blessings
In the basement of the quaint Blessings Bar in Shoreditch, away from a dreary Valentine’s Day weather, Ray Cooper played his 5th show of his UK tour to a room of attentive friends and fans. Blessings, a small bar on Commercial Street Shoreditch, provides a cosy basement venue, in what seems to be an old wine cellar. With pew like benches in rows lining the narrow room, depicting an odd Sunday service scene, Ray stood just in front of the rough brick arches with a single microphone.
Ray Cooper, multi-instrumentalist living in Sweden, blends an interesting array of musical styles and genres to create a traditional sound with modern twists. Drawing on both Scandinavian and Scottish tradition, Ray often plays traditional folk songs overlaid with his own lyrics, bringing new life to these fading melodies and exposing them to the modern world. Cycling through cello, mandolin, and acoustic guitar, Ray shows fine skill with all. In particular, his cello pieces are intricate and haunting at times, with Ray harnessing the resonance of the instrument to the fullest and sweeping through a variety of techniques to progress his songs.
One song during the performance that stood out was a piece that Ray wrote after reading the biography of a British soldier executed by firing squad for desertion during WWI. Written and performed from the perspective of the soldier, the song comes across fairly upbeat whilst the story winds its way to a morbid ending. This reflects the personality of the soldier well, as according to the biography he was an outgoing man with little respect for authority.
The gig overall was an intimate affair, leisurely and comfortable as befits a Sunday afternoon. Ray’s easy rapport with the crowd helping to break down any artist to crowd boundaries, along with the lack of stage or strict set up. Breezing through his traditional back catalogue, offering small interjections of history and story in between, the small basement room at Blessings listened intently as the subtle and powerful mix of Ray’s music filled the narrow space.
A brilliant performance from a multi-talented musician, in a venue that fitted the spectacle and tone perfectly with its intimate nature and rough aesthetic.
Check out Ray’s European dates here!
Keep posted for an interview with Ray coming soon!