Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
An Intimate Setting That Brings You Closer to the Perfomers
Chris Ike Performs at The Cafe in the Crypt
On my last visit to The Cafe in the Crypt in July, I was breath taken with the gorgeous architecture, and could see why it would make the perfect venue for a concert or private function. So when I received an invite to Spits Live, I was excited to once again absorb the beautiful surroundings, but this time accompanied by performances by some homegrown singers.
Spits Live was advertised a number of places, including both Spitalfields's Facebook page and website. The exact details were rather confusing, however, as each place advertised had conflicting information both about times and prices. For example, most places stated £7 advanced booking and £10 at the door, but another stated £9 advanced booking. I was therefore especially surprised when my group arrived and were told that entry was completely free. The answer soon became apparent once we stepped inside. I was greeted by Helen, the events organiser, who apologised, saying that unfortunately two of the acts had cancelled, so the live music would only be between 7.30pm - 8.30pm, instead of 7pm-10pm. It was a shame that neither Vivienne Isebor, a spoken word artist from North London, or the Scottish Dayana could not make it, but it could not be helped, and these things do happen.
We decided it was best to get our drinks and eat before the performance began, something I was looking forward to, remembering the quality of the food last visit. Available were a delicious range of salads that you could mix 'n' match, as well as toasties, savoury pastries, and baked sweet treats.
I had a combination of quinoa, spinach, and feta salad with roasted vegetables, broccoli, and sun-dried tomatoes. The dressing on the salad was superb: very light, but extremely flavourful. It made the whole thing marry together and was very refreshing.
Mum ordered a mozzarella and tomato toastie on brown bread, accompanied by chickpea salad, which the waitress brought to our table once ready. Mum said that it passed her one major important test - that it was hot. Many a time we have come across lukewarm toasties that have barely browned the surface of the bread, but this was a proper toastie.
On our last visit, Dad opted for a beef pasty, and he went for a similar offering of a sausage roll and side salad this time round. As before, he found the pastry incredibly light and the seasoning exceptional.
While the food is superb, the drinks are limited. Unless you like pale ale or larger, there is not much of a selection to choose from (one nondescript white wine, one red, and a few soft drinks). If you are hiring the venue for a private function, this would not be an issue as you could agree upon which drinks you would like available beforehand with their own special catering services. As we were guests, our first drink was on the house, and, after that '2 for 1'. At least according the leaflet handed to us. We were therefore confused when charged for both our ale and coffee. Upon returning home, I once again discovered conflicting information across their various webpages. One stating '2 for 1 drinks' were between 5.30pm - 7.30pm, another 6pm - 7pm, and some didn't say there was a time limit at all. The lack of clarity throughout the evening was a bit frustrating.
After our meal, I took time to wander around the crypt and found out about an interesting piece of history that had escaped my attention last time round. Hanging from one of the walls was a display of clay pipes that had been found underneath the church gardens, dating between the sixteenth and twentieth century. During the time of Great Plague, smoking a pipe was particularly popular because far from realising the negative health implications, the people actually believed smoking protected against Black Death.
It was around this point that Chris Ike - the one remaining act - arrived and started performing sound tests. It was interesting to listen to him practising and getting things in tune. Chris Ike is a Nigerian born, London bred singer/songwriter and producer who blends together soul, pop, and funk music. In 2015, Chris caught the sights of Resolution Music, which resulted in his first publishing deal. He has performed at Her Majesty's Theatre and performed for David Oyelowo at a private film premiere of Paramount Pictures's Captive.
Chris plays the drums and keyboard, but on this occasion showed us his skills with an electric guitar. By this point in the proceedings, the length of the performance had been cut down even further from one hour to thirty minutes, and as he started ten minutes late, the whole show ended up being only twenty minutes long. Given that we had expected three to four hours of entertainment, the night was rather anticlimactic. The singing we did hear was very enjoyable to listen to, but perhaps not worth an hour plus travel to get there. If, however, you were just passing by on the way home from work, dropping in for an evening at the Cafe in the Crypt is a great way to unwind and just let go of any tension built up during the day.
I think, in fact, that might be what most people did. When we arrived at six o'clock, no one else was there. We expected groups of people to start arriving by seven, but it was not until shortly before the performance began that a dozen or so people came in from the courtyard and took a seat. I think Chris must have felt very relieved when he saw a small audience appear, otherwise he would have been playing to an empty room. Apparently summer is very quiet for the crypt, but things pick up in the autumn/winter.
Although there were only a small number of people at the event, the venue has many different rooms for hire that can hold hundreds of guests. For example, The Nave can play host to 270 people sitting and 600 for standing receptions, while the Old Vestry is for more intimate gatherings of about 25 to 50. Of course, the most joyous private functions are weddings and baptisms, which can be held in the Baroque splendour of Christ Church. Right now and throughout September, Spitalfields Venue is offering 20% off your booking.
The first song Chris performed was called 'Everything has Changed', which he wrote about six weeks ago, and was followed by two more original songs, 'Freedom' and 'Give Me Your Heart'. Chris has such a smooth angelic voice, and is able to reach an impossibly high pitch. It is quite amazing. Chris also sang his own rendition of a Rhianna song and his favourite Michael Jackson song, 'Dirty Diana'. The strength of his singing was enhanced by the incredible acoustics; the music surrounded the entire crypt. At one point we were sitting behind a wall, and it was a crystal clear as ever.
As a venue, the Cafe in the Crypt is enchanting, atmospheric, and the perfect place to hold a party, and while Spits Live night clearly didn't go exactly as planned, some of that was due to circumstances out of their hands. I do however, think a few improved organisational issue could have helped things run more smoothly.