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Emma Ruth Rundle at Bush Hall, London - live review

The Gospel - live

crowd shot

A singer who inhabits far-flung emotional territory that both haunts and heals in equal measure, Emma Ruth Rundle tends to get talked about in hallowed tones by fans of much louder fare. Tonight’s show, in this opulent outpost of London, is testament to the quiet, transformative power that can be invoked by one guitar and a voice whose resonance feels like the rediscovery of long-buried truth. Silencing the expectant throng before she’s even played a note, she weaves an opening Arms I Know So Well as if it’s a prayer for deliverance, and if there’s a vulnerability that’s brought to light there’s also a level of control that both holds her in check and feels like the staunching of wounds. But for the most part she’s backed by members of her equally exquisite support band, Jaye Jayle, exchanging stillness for a dynamic reach and, on Marked For Death, her voice still kneads harboured hurts until they become the finest of textures, and a closing, a cappella Real Big Sky becomes a time-stopping elixir for bruised souls.

Having freelanced regularly for the Melody Maker and Kerrang!, and edited the extreme metal monthly, Terrorizer, for seven years, Jonathan is now the overseer of all the album and live reviews in Metal Hammer. Bemoans his obsolete superpower of being invisible to Routemaster bus conductors, finds men without sideburns slightly circumspect, and thinks songs that aren’t about Satan, swords or witches are a bit silly.