The Clapham Grand is one hell of a cool venue, and after £500,000 of refurbishment it has been returned to its former glory and is hosting some the city’s best live music.
This Victorian-era listed building opened originally as a music hall in 1900. With a large capacity of 1,250 people, in its time this venue has served as a cinema, bingo hall and nightclub, and of course as a venue for live music. Inside it looks similar to one of the West End theatres, but with all the seats removed – the three tiers enable an excellent view of everything.
A few nights ago I went to The Clapham Grand for the first time for Jack Daniels 160th Birthday Party! Duane Eddy, Jarvis Cocker, Richard Hawley and Ellie Goulding were all there performing for the crowd. To help celebrate this iconic Tennessee whisky they played American Classics individually and also together.
As I was ushered in I was given drinks tokens, and a groovy Jack Daniels style hat was plonked on my head. I walked along a corridor and was hit by an excited crowd (all wearing their freebie hats). After my interesting tasting Apple Whisky drink I wove forward to listen to the music. I’ve never been a massive fan of Ellie Goulding, and have rather written her off as one of the new crew of blonde singers that seemed to have stormed the music scene recently. Her opening song was in fact quite good, not that I could really hear any of the words; she sort of gurgles when she sings. I couldn’t see her face either, because there was an excess of pretentious hair swishing. I loved standing at the top of the cascading balconies and looking down at the music; although it was strange for me as usually in this type of venue I would be sitting patiently waiting for the opera to start.
I cannot deny that this venue generated a great atmosphere, proved particularly when Duane Eddy eventually came onto the fantastically lit stage. Eddy and his band looked effortlessly cool, and the audience seemed to love him (although I’m sure at least half didn’t know who he was). It was clear, just from his outfit, that he was the Tennessee link in this event. I have to say his band outdid him a bit, especially the excellent sax player whose charismatic playing stole the show. I must admit I had to go home and ask my dad quite why Eddy is such a legend. Apparently the answer is: he was very influential in rock’n’roll because of his unique way of playing the guitar with his use of tremolo on notes paving the way for hundreds of artists to come.
Nobody knows the exact date of Mr Jack Daniel’s birthday, but it’s worth guessing for a party like this.