Camille Sings Cave: A personal love letter

Prepare to be taken on a musical journey like no other, writes Ange Chan…

Camille O’Sullivan is an artist that I’ve been a fan of for more than ten years, but her recent show in the beautiful surroundings of Union Chapel in London’s Islington was as accomplished and heartfelt as any of the numerous performances I’ve seen by her, over the years.

In Camille’s ‘regular shows’ (ain’t nothing ‘regular’ about them, however, hear me out…) she interprets the songs of the likes of Jacques Brel, David Bowie, Tom Waits, and Nick Cave amongst others and always manages to present them in her own inimitable quirky, chanson-esque style.  She lavishes these songs with flamboyance, tenderness, affection and joie de vivre and through them, she thoroughly makes each performance her own.

Known as ‘The Queen of the (Edinburgh) Fringe’ having performed and won numerous accolades for those performances over the past decade and a half, she accomplished this yet again at the Union Chapel on Friday 1st November as the first night of her 2-day residency at the venue, where she performed the songs solely by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds.  The show was debuted early last year at the Auckland Music Festival and brought to the UK by popular demand, having previously been performed during the Brighton Fringe earlier this year.

Despite a few opening technical hitches with the lighting, like the true professional this tour de force is she sang through the darkness and subsequently the overwhelming brightness and didn’t skip a heartbeat.  She opened her self-professed love letter to Cave with God is in the House performed with reverence and respect, which seemed appropriate given the ecclesiastical surroundings.  However, the nod to the Almighty was later unapologetically ignored during Stagger Lee performed with all the passion and energy it required and was peppered with several references to the aforementioned gentleman being a ‘motherfucker’ which Camille screamed loudly to the heavens.

And so from the tenderly, almost whispered songs like Into My Arms and The Ship Song through to vivacious The Mercy Seat and Red Right Hand and everything in between, Camille delivered each song with the respect and integrity it deserved.  Cave’s lyrics seemed to have found their home in the Union Chapel, many of which reference religion and tackle subjects such as grief and despair, a subject Cave himself knows painfully too well since the accidental death of his son Arthur in 2015.

Camille is a big fan of Nick Cave and she spoke briefly about what his music has meant to her over the years and why she felt compelled to bring her favourite songs of his together in one show.  Aside from the old favourites, she referenced Cave’s latest album released just a couple of weeks ago Ghosteen and sang a track from it.  You could’ve heard a pin drop during her hypnotic performance as the audience watched on, mesmerized.

If you get the chance to catch O’Sullivan’s Cave show I would thoroughly recommend it.  Prepare to be taken on a musical journey like no other, through her energy and compassion.  Failing that you can do the next best thing and indulge yourself in the live CD of the show, recorded earlier this year, which encompasses fifteen beautifully presented tracks.


‘Camille Sings Cave: Live’ is available from all the usual retailers. Her website is www.camilleosullivan.com

Ange Chan is a poet, author and a regular contributor to We Are Cult since its inception.  She has written two novels and six volume of poetry and plans to see her third novel Champagne Flutes and Pixie Boots published in 2020.

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