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Sleeping at Last: Live at The Royal Festival Hall


 

 


Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to see "Sleeping at Last" live. As an artist who doesn't perform often, especially on a UK tour, it was a true honor for me to attend this show. I adore his music, so being able to experience it live was a privilege I'll always cherish.

 

The show was at the Royal Festival Hall, one of London's most iconic cultural venues, situated on the South Bank of the River Thames. The hall is renowned for its superb acoustics and its striking modernist architecture, featuring a distinctive curved roof and a spacious interior.

 


Attending a concert at Royal Festival Hall is an immersive experience filled with anticipation, vibrant energy, and a deep connection between the performers and the audience. As the music fills the grand hall, time seems to pause, leaving an unforgettable impression on everyone present.

 

The event was structured into two one-hour segments, separated by a 20-minute intermission; however, "Sleeping At Last" delivered such an extraordinary performance that time seemed to vanish in the blink of an eye.



The show opened up with Philip Sheppard, a versatile British composer, cellist, and producer known for his work across classical, electronic, and film music. He's composed for films, TV, commercials, and games, blending classical and modern styles. Sheppard has collaborated with top artists and performed worldwide, leaving a significant mark on the music scene.

 

Philip's cello performance was nothing short of mesmerizing. As he gracefully moved his bow across the strings, the loop pedal added layers of depth to his music, creating a symphony of sound that enraptured the audience.

 

Philip played a rendition of the oldest recorded song in history as well as 2 of his original pieces, but it was his collaboration with the audience that truly stole the show. Inviting them to participate, Philip created a piece that was truly one-of-a-kind. As audience members suggested musical notes, a sense of unity washed over the crowd, as if they were all connected by the power of music.

 


The show continued as Philip introduced Ryan, the performer known as "Sleeping at Last," who began with the song "I'll Keep You Safe," followed by his hit single "Turning Page." Ryan shared with us that "Turning Page" was initially written for his wife, who watched from the crowd, before it became a song featured in the vampire-themed fantasy romance movie "Twilight: Breaking Dawn."

 

Alongside Philip and Ryan, the Solem Quartet added a magical touch to the songs. It was right after "Turning Page" that I realized the unique nature of the show. As the musicians performed, soloing the strings, the piano, and Ryan's voice, silence filled the room, but as the songs came to an end, an electrifying roar replaced it. It was the audience's respectful appreciation for the music.

 



"Neptune" easily became one of my favorite songs to hear live. The contrast between the strings and Ryan's voice as the chorus comes in was beautiful. What made it even more powerful was the absence of drums in the live arrangement, unlike the recorded version. This difference amplified the impact of transitioning between the verse and chorus.

 

"Mother" and "Some Kind of Heaven" were equally poignant moments of the show. Ryan introduced this section with a trembling voice, recounting the story of his mother's unexpected passing. "Mother," a song he intended to share with her before her death, now serves as a means for him to navigate his grief. He described how the melody itself embodies his mother, referring to it as "musical waves," which resonated deeply with the audience, evoking an emotional connection to the song. As he played, the sniffles of the crowd were audible, leaving us all with a lump in our throats.

 

 

Amidst the emotional depth of the show, there were also lighthearted moments that provided a welcome respite. One standout moment occurred as Ryan played "Three," and unintentionally made a mistake in his piano playing. In a humorous twist of fate, he commented on the irony of the situation, considering the lyric in the song that says "and leaving my greatest failures on display."

 

And of course, it wouldn't be a Sleeping at Last show without love in the air. During the beautiful song "Saturn," a magical moment unfolded as someone in the audience chose that perfect moment to propose to their loved one.

 



Words & Photos by Ines B.

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