There's No Place Like Home

House Concerts - York

Music has been a passion of mine from a very young age and over the years I have been fortunate enough to watch and play some incredible (and some not so incredible) gigs around the UK and beyond.

A big room, stage, PA, lighting rig, band, bar and of course a very sticky floor. Mix all these things together and you can have a great night! However I am always looking for new ways to enjoy live music, something different that makes the event that bit more special. So when we heard there were gigs being played in a living room in York, we had to go see it for ourselves.

House concerts are a very common occurrence in America, for up and coming bands to superstars alike. In the UK however it is still a fairly new concept and unless you’re in London they are practically unheard of.

Luckily for us northern folk, husband and wife duo Tony & Nicki introduced this great initiative to North Yorkshire and have done a great job of it too!

Since their first House Concert back in 2007, Tony and Nikki have invited over 250 musicians into their living room to perform intimate gigs to a crowd no bigger than 50 at full capacity.  Due to the popularity of their gigs they have also earned their place as one the top 10 venues in the UK for up and coming acts as voted for by BBC6 listeners. How cool is that?

We attended the House Concert ‘Christmas Special’ event and enjoyed an evening of mulled wine and great performances from the stunning Billie Marten and the musical wizard that is John Gomme.

The atmosphere was like no other gig we had been to. It was definitely an intimate experience. After everyone had piled in and taken their seats, I was tucked into the corner by the guitar collection manning the camera, with Sandy and Ben finding a bit of space in the kitchen (conveniently close to the mulled wine). Aside from a few church pews, a small PA and improvised beer-box lighting there is no attempt to make the ‘venue’ feel like anything other than the cosy country cottage that it is (No sticky floors here!).

Photos from previous House Concerts adorn the walls and provide a visual archive of the many talented musicians that have performed over the years. A few familiar faces such as Iain Archer (co-writer of Snow Patrol's ‘Run’), Newton Faulkner and Leddra Chapman can be spotted in some of the photos and are a testament to the success of these concerts.

As if House Concerts didn’t sound homely enough, Nikki and Tony cook up a hot meal, and offer a comfy bed for the night to any of the artists who perform.  They also make no money from these concerts. All ‘donations’ made when acquiring a ticket go straight to the musicians who perform on the night. This is refreshing in an industry where record labels squeeze every penny out of their acts with little return for those who actually perform. To be honest, its a shame that this isn't how it normally works.

The novelty of the experience really hit me when Billie Marten started her set. There we were, a mish mash of families, couples and singletons of all ages sat all cosy in someone’s living room watching a talented singer songwriter perform while sipping on mulled wine.  It was definitely a richer ‘experience’ than any gig I have been to previously. There aren’t many occasions where you can have a chat with the musicians while they’re re-tuning their guitar or open the back door for them when it gets a bit hot.

House Concerts is a night not to be missed. Take a few friends, grab a couple beers and experience a gig with a difference.