House concert, Cambridgeshire

20 April 2023

I've never been to a house concert before. To be honest, the idea makes me a bit nervous. I don't even like visiting my friends' houses, let alone a complete stranger's. It's going to be in someone's living room, with a tiny audience who are probably all really nice and friendly, and I really don't do well in social situations with friendly people, I prefer to lurk anonymously, and I want my concerts to be in a dark room so nobody can see me crying at the music, and this is in a tiny village in the middle of nowhere at the other end of the country and the travel is ridiculous. And for most bands, I would think, ah, I'll see them again somewhere more convenient.

But there are some bands that are just special. In ways I can't define, for reasons that I can't articulate, a very (very) tiny number of bands are more... I guess more important to me than all the others I listen to. Something about their music affects me on a deeper emotional level. I really can't explain what it is. But I'll do pretty much anything to see these bands.

So... a decade (or a lifetime) ago, I discovered this band called Iamthemorning, and I managed to see them live six times, the last one being December 2019, just before the world went crazy. And over the last three years, while we went from disaster to disaster with Iamthemorning always seeming to be caught in the middle of it, I honestly thought I might never see them again. Lesser bands might have just given up and called it a day. But Iamthemorning appear to be, thankfully, unstoppable. And after a three-year gap, Gleb Kolyadin and Marjana Semkina are back together and on a stage (well, a living room floor), and six feet away from me, and being absolutely... perfect.

Every time I've seen them, they've had a different group of musicians with them. And I've always wished that at some point I could see them as a duo, hear the songs stripped of their clever and complex arrangements and just standing on the strength of Gleb's piano and Marjana's voice, two of the most beautiful instruments I've ever heard.

And this is what it is.

And I'm kind of overwhelmed by it, and I'm not sure what to write.

I can just give you the facts: they're playing in the corner of an L-shaped room, with the small audience arranged along both wings. There's an upright piano which Gleb plays with his back to us (so you can see his fingers on the keyboard, and you can spend the whole show wondering how such dexterity is humanly possible). I don't think the piano is amplified, but Marjana's voice is, and the mix works nicely, with just the right amount of volume to fill the room.

The audience is silent and attentive throughout. I'm sure everyone here knows the band, and we're all getting exactly what we came for.

Yesterday was Marjana's birthday, and there is cake. And we sing happy birthday.

Our host is helpful and friendly and immediately puts me at ease and wondering why I was bothered by the idea of a house concert. And he's provided cake, did I mention that?

The set list is arranged randomly by the audience picking song names out of a basket. Leading to an odd flow to the concert, and I'm not completely convinced it's the best way to do things but it was a fun experiment.

The songs are drawn from all four of their albums, with probably no surprises to people who've seen their other shows, and some of the arrangements feel slightly shortened, but they are all...

Magical. There's something magical about the music this duo writes together. The beauty of the melodies, the dark depths of the lyrics, the classical piano lines playing against the range and control of Marjana's voice.

It's all too perfect, and I am not adequate to explain how. I wish I could make everybody listen to this, so they would understand.

This was all just perfect.

Thank you.