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Sarah Gillespie, Saint John The Baptist Church – Live Music Review


WHAT a delight on so many levels. Live music from a musician born to perform live (Sarah Gillespie). A mind boggling venue – a tiny church buried away in the Chilterns combining Norman and Anglo Saxon architecture and some jaw dropping medieval wall paintings  dating back to the 12th century.  And marvellous support from the fingers of Tom Cawley on keyboards and Chris Montague on guitar.

It doesn’t get much better than this  on a balmy Sunday afternoon when all the talk is about impending lockdown and further restrictions on the way we go about our lives. Heavenly. More please. Much more.

The performance was the second of three ‘little proms’  being held at this beautiful church – the next is at three o’clock on 27 September with Thea Spiers leading the way. Although social distancing means numbers are limited, I urge you to support this wonderful initiative. There’s even a pub a few yards up the road (Red Lion) where you can have a quick drink afterwards.

Gillespie glitters and shines when on stage. And she didn’t disappoint as she performed a number of songs from her impressive play list – based on her life (divorce, bringing up a child, love for her mother and 87-year-old aunt) and all written with great wit. The likes of Oh Mary (aunt), Susannah Threw a Helicopter (child and her experiences at nursery school), You Win (messy divorce) and Glory Days (Mum).

She also displayed her ability to write with observational wit through songs Signal Failure (romantic jealousy in the age of the smartphone) and Lonely Heart Sads – witty lyrics based on come-ons given in dating adverts. A little close to the knuckle given the venue but The Revd John Simpson didn’t seem to mind. There was also a little dig at President Trump in How The Mighty Fall and the dangers of two much drink (Moonshiner).

An uplifting afternoon for everyone present. Gillespie, Cawley and Montague seemed thrilled to be performing live again. The audience all beamed as they made their way out of the church afterwards, content with their afternoon’s consumption of live music. And the church wardens smiled in appreciation as a number of people waved their smartphones in front of a card reader – in the process donating £5 to the glorious church.

Win, win, win. More please.


Saint John The Baptist Church

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