Band's Suburb gig set to be an illuminating experience

PUBLISHED: 14:38 24 September 2008 | UPDATED: 15:24 07 September 2010

Katie Davies ROCK and roll will take an unlikely position among the pews of a 99-year-old church in Hampstead Garden Suburb. The traditional church choir and organ at the magnificent Free Church in Central Square, founded in 1909, are being swept aside to

Katie Davies

ROCK and roll will take an unlikely position among the pews of a 99-year-old church in Hampstead Garden Suburb.

The traditional church choir and organ at the magnificent Free Church in Central Square, founded in 1909, are being swept aside to make way for the crashing guitars and drums of a local group trying to make their big break.

The Illuminations, a five-piece band including Suburb resident Ewan King, have been rehearsing at the church and will now take their place at the altar for a concert on Saturday.

Mr King, 28, of Addison Way who usually attends the church for more sedate Sunday worship, is looking forward to the chance of singing from a different hymn sheet.

"We normally play in slightly more rock and roll venues but this is a way to say thank you to the church for letting us rehearse there," he said.

"Most places in London aren't particularly generous in giving space but they let us go for it. They have also got amazingly thick walls and there's a lot of space around the church so we don't have to worry about the volume."

The band aren't all religious and their music is not linked to faith, but they are hoping that regular church-goers and residents alike will be attracted to the idea of a concert set in such an historical building.

The gig will coincide with the church's harvest festival which is themed around homelessness and will raise money for the Finchley Night Shelter.

Lead singer Matt Bower, 28, was full of praise for the venue. He said: "They have called us in for the harvest festival because they wanted something a bit more real than corn dolls on the altar.

"The church has crazy acoustics and it is quite atmospheric. It is an amazing building and such a big space. Our drummer is also an amazing pianist so he may well play the organ as part of it."

The band's music incorporates folk, rock and jazz numbers and Minister of the Free Church Dr Ian Tutton is already a fan.

"I have heard them before and I think they are great," he said. "They're a group of young musicians who are very talented and play a range of music - it should be a great evening.

"It isn't our usual diet of classical music but it does no harm, and the mix of electric music in a traditional building works very well."

The concert is taking place at 6pm and entry is free, while donations will be welcomed for the night shelter.

A creche will be available for parents hoping to attend.

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