Gleb Kolyadin

Union Chapel, London

2 October 2018

This is going to be hard to write, because it's impossible to review the concert without mentioning Iamthemorning, and it's not fair to Gleb to say that I wished for things to be different. But I'm just going to be honest about how I feel, and you'll just have to take it as it comes.

I never in a million years thought I would be writing a review under the headline "Gleb Kolyadin". It's rare enough that I see him with Iamthemorning. Seeing him give a solo piano recital is something I thought I could only dream about. This was, literally, a dream come true.

And, at the same time, there's a disappointment, because this should also have been an Iamthemorning concert, with Gleb playing a support set, and it would have been if not for stupid bureaucracy keeping Marjana Semkina out of the country. [Must resist the urge to get political ... but wouldn't it be great to live in a world where freedom of movement was acknowledged as a basic human right?]

So anyway, it's with mixed feelings that I went into this concert. Trying not to be disappointed at missing Iamthemorning, but filled with nervous excitement at getting the chance to see what Gleb would do on his own. Because, to be honest, if the concert was billed from the start as just Gleb solo, I would still be here to see him.

Union Chapel is beautiful. I've seen it on film before, but in person it's even more impressive, massive vaulted ceiling, gothic architecture, stained glass. It's probably the most beautiful venue I've ever been in. Marjana would have loved it. Sorry, Marjana.

The place is packed, and there are a lot of Anathema t-shirts, and from the chatter around me not many people are aware of Iamthemorning, let alone Gleb. There are a lot of bands on the bill tonight, and a lot of equipment on the stage. But there's a grand piano, and that's all I really care about.

So, second on the bill, Gleb walks on and there's huge applause, so he obviously does have fans here. He speaks very briefly, to tell us he won't talk, just play non-stop.

And then he starts.

And you can hear a pin drop in the audience. At first it's like nobody can quite believe what they're hearing. And then, at the end of the first piece, there's deafening applause and a standing ovation.

Gleb Kolyadin is simply phenomenal. The material from his solo album is scored for drums and other instruments as well as piano; it's rock music. But here it's just him and a piano, and yet his arrangements and his ridiculously fast, complex playing fill in enough detail that you don't even notice or care that there are no drums. It still rocks. And it still sounds classical. I've heard rock keyboard players and I've heard classical pianists and Gleb can stand with the very best of either group. At the same time.

After a selection of instrumental pieces, he surprises probably everybody there (certainly me) by announcing his guest, Steve Hogarth, to sing The Best of Days. It's obviously a crowd-pleasing move, and they jointly get massive applause as the set ends after the song. But Gleb's already got his own standing ovation. He must know by now that this gig has been a massive personal success, regardless of guest stars.

And I am so incredibly happy. I wish the set had been longer, and of course I wish Marjana had also been there. Iamthemorning have something special, an emotional force that I think needs both of their unique voices to work. But Gleb alone is pretty much the perfect musician for me, he writes and plays exactly the sort of music I love. I feel privileged to have been here to hear it for even this short amount of time, and I hope I can get lots more future opportunities to hear it.

Best concert I have ever seen.

But I still wish for Iamthemorning.