Karima Francis was the first artist I saw at Gathering, and she set an incredibly high standard that no one else was quite able to match. Walking on to the stage, she cut a a striking figure. Stretch black drainpipe jeans, an oversized brown overcoat, and untamed Dylan-esque hair. She performed to a packed and attentive, seated crowd at the Cowley Road Methodist Church, and was genuinely moved by how many people attended. ‘You’re probably here for the next act,’ she told the audience, but that was certainly not the case. Francis opened with ‘Arrest You’, a track from her second album released this year, which displays her spectacularly strong voice. On record she’s good, but live she is so much better. A present day Tracy Chapman in song-writing style, but whose voice is more akin to Feist. It’s moving and it’s haunting. ‘Glory Days’ is a very catchy single, and displays her more upbeat side, but ‘Wherever I Go’ proves to be the highlight of the set. As with all her songs it’s incredibly personal, and the crowd give her the appreciation she deserves.
Rounding off the night were PEACE at the Community Centre and Liars at the Bullingdon. It was a real dilemma, and an unfortunate clash, but I chose to stay for Peace. Tom’s experience at Liars confirms I made the right decision. PEACE finished the festival on a real high. Karima Francis was brilliant, but the rest of my experience of Gathering had been disappointing. After Lucy Rose finished however, the individuals in the crowd who had made The Staves a very unpleasant experience left, and the hipsters, an altogether less confrontational group, suddenly appeared. The result was a much more pleasant vibe, and a very engaged crowd.
PEACE strolled on stage, and proceeded to hand a few cans of beer out to those at the front, which was a nice touch. Now, I thought I was seeing Canadian post-punk band Peace, whose sophomore recorded was released this month. I wasn’t. It turned out to be the tropical-infused indie band from Birmingham, with more in common with Abe Vigoda than Echo & The Bunnymen. And all the better for it because they were brilliant. The group only have an EP out at present, but their set was plenty long enough and very lively, and the crowd were enthusiastic and responsive. ‘Bloodshake’ and ‘California Daze’ were highlights, and the group exuded a brilliant charisma onstage. They’re definitely one to watch.