Jozef Van Wissem at the Rose Hill

By Michael Kemp

Review of Jozef Van Wissem at the Rose Hill, Brighton , .

Jozef van Wissem

A sleepy Saturday afternoon in “The Mitre” ~ most of the regulars already stunned into silence or glazed inscrutable reflection ~ Rastaman Stacey quietly washing up the glasses ~ when suddenly the doors open and Alan “Fred” Pipes comes in like a speeding bullet, sporting a red & blue target crash helmet ~ a roving pinball escaped from an errant pinball machine ~ the regulars all wake up and start shouting Terrorist! Terrorist!! ~ I manage to flag him down and we sit together drinking Harvey’s Christmas Ale.

Four hours later. A walk through the gentle undulating dark rain, down the graffiti passage to the familiar lights of the Rose Hill. A ticket on the door and a vacant armchair on the upper floor. A large glass of red ceremonial wine. Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive…

Noticed that I inadvertently tagged myself on the wrong “Rose Hill” site ~ the one for the previous establishment at this location which states: “May be Permanently Closed” ~ I wondered about this ~ are we, in fact, ghosts in an old abandoned public house, driven backwards into feudal winter snowstorms and past lives by Hákarl and Jozef Van Wissem’s meditative minstrelsy? Unearthed memories of ancestral castles, old illegible maps and the constant shadow of the vampire… A long night without the blessing of sleep…

Jozef van Wissem

And here he is ~ Jozef Van Wissem ~ appearing in the baroque doorway with a bottle of wine ~ casting arcane spells ~ playing 13th century lute with a ritualistic bottleneck ~ When the sun turns to darkness, and the moon turns to blood ~ audience spellbound like cats, hypnotised ~ you could hear a pin drop ~ or an old cabalistic cross (which would immediately turn into smoke, or dust, on hitting the floor) ~ esoteric ~ mystical ~ knowing ~ he’s finished his set now and is up in the bar ~ and I’ve just congratulated him and shaken him by the hand ~ all silently watched over by atlas globes, dusty birdcages, and ancient European dolls…

All photographs copyright © 2016 Agata Urbaniak, used with permission. See Agata’s full series from this gig at