LIVE: Owen @ St Pancras Old Church, London

By Sean Littlewood

It’s strange to think that Mike Kinsella has so much to offer one of the oldest sites of Christian worship in dusty old England. Tonight, the first of two insanely intimate performances inside St Pancras Old Church, a building in existence since the start of the 9th Century, promises to be the most special of nights for fans of Owen, Kinsella’s formidable outlet for some of his most exceptional and personal work.

Kinsella manages to simultaneously bring humility, an almost climatic coyness, and some imperfect offerings of vintage Owen to most of his shows, but tonight the unassuming ambiance of his performance becomes almost spiritual against such an intense backdrop. An apt performance of the self-reflective ‘Bad News’ even begins his performance like a religious confession, with the shared silence of everyone filling the church pews making every word even more profound and sincere.

Between two loose sets, Kinsella seems equally lost for words, only stopping to half offer everyone for a beer somewhere down the road afterwards – ” or maybe more songs” – and to make reference to the “hundreds of dead Catholics” buried underneath us before a delicate offering of ‘Love Is Not Enough’. The audience fittingly decline any urges to outwardly request any of their favourites tonight, although ‘I Believe’ gets a faint call from the back at one point, instead allowing Kinsella to delve deep into his catalogue.

‘Never Meant’ even gets a soft, rare solo outing, as well as brand new American Football track ‘Home Is Where The Haunt Is’. Both sound stunning, and offer a glimpse into the deep-lying sentiment and intelligent craft existing at the heart of Kinsella’s work. What makes tonight truly special though is the lack of any pretence or egotism. Tonight, the performer is just one of us, every bit as human and every bit as awkward, only far more competent and artful in his disdain.

It seems there is nothing else needed in the world on a freezing cold Monday November night but a centuries old church, an acoustic guitar and all the feelings ever felt. Kinsella songs were made to fill the quiet parts of our day, the dull moments of sadness and self-reflection. In such a beautiful setting though, they become more than that. They become the candid, humane confessions of an accidental pioneer of the emo genre, with all their faults and flaws only adding to the warmth and sincerity that they hold.