We’ve been keen to visit the Swedish Church – now the Nordic Church – for some time and the news that the building had been saved made it a good time to head along and experience it in its new guise.

There’s sometime a feeling about some music nights that they’re a bit worthy; that you don’t actually enjoy them as much as you think you should, or would like to. We’re happy to report that this was emphatically not the case at the first Friend or Foe we managed to attend.

Having picked up some beers on the way we took refuge from a cold and blustery night outside, heading upstairs and following our noses to a warm, friendly room with soup and cake.

A home-made ham and veg broth called storm soup, with buns baked on the premises that day, is just what the doctor ordered, courtesy of the trust that’s now responsible for running the church.

Upstairs, in the stunning church proper, is nourishment for the soul in the shape of Scott Russell and his wonderful acoustic stylings. Accompanied by sometime band mate Ross Charnock on guitar, Helen Maher on accordion and Gary Daly on keyboards, Russell purveys quite beautiful slices of melodic folk. It’s perfectly pitched for the auditorium.

Next up are the excellent Legends of Flight – tonight’s hosts – busy picking up flattering reviews and airplay here and there with a set that is pitched somewhere between lof-fi and, er, fi.

There’s something of the early 90s indie about their music, but that sounds like faint praise. It’s not and although their music is a long way from the opening acts it doesn’t seem out of place. Their chord changes and melodies shun the the obvious. They’re lyrically far more interesting than the 90s-indie comparisons would suggest. Legends of Flight are ace.

Last up is Esa Shields, giving a performance that seems impossible to constrain within a review. Equipped with only a minidisc player, Esa constructs unlikely tunes from an array of instruments and overlays a stunning voice that sounds like it comes from angel.

Otherworldly doesn’t do it justice. Some might find it too out there. We thought it pitch perfect, especially given the way the church was lit up and the rapt audience.

So, Friend or Foe and the Nordic Church. A marriage made in heaven – and a beautiful, small sanctuary from the wilds of Liverpool on a Friday night.

The next Friend or Foe features Hannah Peel at the same venue on Friday 18 March

All images by Brian Roberts

Esa Shields
Legends of Flight
Up You (Scott Russell)
Nordic Church

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