New Year’s Eve Party @ Royal Festival Hall Review
I really wanted to blast 2011 out of the history books due to it being one of, if not the worst year I’d ever experienced. Though my knowledge of the other artists on the bill was a bit sketchy I did my duty and went through each back catalogue via Spotify/MySpace/YouTube. An impressive bunch of folk, rock(ish) and songstresses/masters to say the least.
Away from the music the fancy dress theme was gods and goddesses of Hollywood. Luckily Gabby Young was at hand to tweet, as I didn’t receive this information from the venue until the 28th December. To say the least the jeans and tour list t-shirt routine wouldn’t cut it. Other than the traditional black tie/dicky bow I could only come up with Marlon Brando from The Wild One. Being a biker it would have fitted nicely but I liked my new trilby a bit too much. Metallic blue face paint with sparkles finished off the ‘look’ that I strangely felt comfortable in [Insert sexuality questions here].
My expectations before the gig? High. A NYE full of music. A chance to end a shitty year on a high.
Getting the train over (and on the way back) was going to be an interesting experience. I was sure of some attention but would it be positive or negative? The journey over was fun as there were lots of happy people willing to randomly chat. Got the odd look of ‘what the f*** is on your face’ but that’s natural.
Whilst waiting for Marie (aka The Pink Lady) I ate popcorn, grabbed a copy of the Big Issue and talked to a few homeless peeps. Discussions included the newsagent round the corner that had been skimping on plastic bags, if I was a squire and where to sleep in the night. I gave them a few quid to restock on tea, cider and beer and went on my way. It’s sad to see but I hope they at least had a good night.
Marie had done her trick of misplacing the ticket, so once a reprint was in her hand we could move onto the venue back entrance. I was cacking myself to see how dressed up everyone was. Lo and behold smart casual was the theme for most people so we stood out. I’m not one for attention but I did enjoy looking different on the night. There was a good mix of ages on the night and a few standouts (white dress lady, punk couple).
Entering the Royal Festival Hall we found that 4 levels were being utilised for different acts. We’d be hovering around The Clore Ballroom (groundfloor) for most of it, but would look to venture around when Gabby Young wasn’t on.
We started with Eliza Carthy’s Motown Ceilidh but moved on pretty quickly. They weren’t bad, it’s just I don’t quite get line dancing (even if it was line dancing to Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson classics). The band were solid and a lot of people seemed to enjoy it, so all’s good. I just wanted to hear something new/original material on the night. Saying that, it’s definitely worth checking out Eliza Carthy’s back catalogue (especially Dreams of Breathing Underwater).
We moved onto This Is Laura on the Level 4 Blue Bar. The band really caught our attention with two female lead vocalists (and one eye-catching red dress) that had great harmonies and yet each had a unique vocal sound. Their songs Liar and My Baby were stuck in my head for a good chunk of the night. Highly recommended. You can get their EP from their BandCamp page.
Next up, the first leg of Gabby Young & Other Animals. Though this gig didn’t reach the heights of the KOKO, they still reaffirmed my thoughts that this band are a bit special. I also made a habit of exchanging waves and thumbs up with Stephen (who also heads up Revere) throughout the evening. Partially due to alcohol and partially because I’m a bit of a tit.
After a little warm down we went up to see Revere. On the way we chatted to a lovely family (still waiting on the email gig invite from the dad xD) and managed to get a little lost. We ended up doing a mini rush for the Green Bar (in turn I shamefully skipped past Fiona Bevan’s performance on Level 5) after going up and down numerous flights of stairs. Revere put on a really good intense performance that showed that little rocky edge they have. This edge doesn’t fully come across enough on their album Hey! Selim, but seems to have filtered through to the recording studio on their last single These Halcyon Days. Their live performances are definitely worth catching.
We then caught the end of Urban Folk Quartet who were great fun. The crowd were really going for it and I’ve enjoyed what I’ve heard of their self-titled album. A good end to 2011. With this came the firework display out on the Royal Festival Hall balcony. Lots of drunk people cheering fireworks and chanting (ourselves included) whilst avoiding the shrapnel.
Once we returned inside the venue, my balance deserted me a little. The Pink Lady also, as she decided to knock over a beer at the front of the stage. This somehow lead to us talking to a Dutch couple who had flown over for Gabby Young who we ended up dancing with (albeit medium drunkardly) throughout Gabby Youngs second leg performance. Brilliant again, just a little more hazy due to alcohol. I also took a photo for two ladies. God knows what the photo came out like.
Then to top the night off, we managed to meet the lady herself on the dance floor. I said three things that I’m hoping can be verified in case I was a twat: ‘Brilliant performance as usual’, ‘vnvnm fdkv mk fmdvndvm (I have no idea)’ and ‘When’s the new album out”. It’s roughly May for those interested. I then ended up laying on top of one of our new Dutch friends at the end of some crazy dance. Apologies to anyone if I was a tit.
On the way back from the venue the following happened:
- The Pink Lady used the men’s toilets when full of Police
- I walked the Pink Lady to her location of residence for the night
- Quite a number of lads looking for trouble
- I bought some polite teenagers a packet of cigs at 3am (wouldn’t do it normally but hey it’s NYE and they were polite!)
- Spoke to some lads who had been beaten up by another group of lads. One guy’s face was a bloody mess, and another looked like he had a broken nose
- I hung about Paddington for 2 hours
- I was the weirdo with running face paint talking to the morning dog walkers at 6.30AM
- Got home at roughly 7AM
- Passed out at 10.30AM thinking I could stay awake for the rest of the day
A brilliant night. My NYE is usually just hanging about with friends or sitting on my arse, so this was a world away from that. I loved every act and will look to go to a gig each NYE.