It had to happen I suppose. I’ve had so many great nights out in London now that I’ve almost forgotten what a bad one feels like. A Tuesday night that fails to reach any sort of height brings me down to earth with a bump.
It’s not that the constituent parts give me any clue about the less-than-satisfactory whole. On entry into The Lucky Pig cocktail bar, the overall impression is a positive one. Hidden away down in a basement in Fitzrovia, this is speakeasy charm and decadence. Friendly and informed bar-staff help you to focus on a cocktail of choice whilst you take in the stylish surrounds and listen to the light, often French, jazz that spins from faux gramophone players.
And each of the musical acts on the bill, acoustic players probably sourced from the open-mic circuit, play reasonably enjoyable sets that on a different night might add to the ambience.
The simple problem I have is the extreme level of drunken chatter from punters in the bar, mostly female fixtures courting a series of impressionable suited suitors. Such is the volume of noise that they make that the night becomes all about them. Nobody has the balls to shut them up as they get increasingly louder. I’ve never been one of those killjoys who expects hushed silence when watching live music but neither am I the sort of person who can show limited respect for acts that have the strength to share their wares. It’s plain and simple rude.
From what I can tell, the Lucky Pig has these acoustic nights a couple of evenings a week. Up first is The King JP. He’s an amiable chap with a sweet soul voice. It’s background music but King JP deserves credit for playing original songs when covers might resonate more. At times, he dips into the political , a lightweight, less-compelling Marvin Gaye.
Ella Winter takes to the stage and sits on a stool next to her guitarist, Jacob. Her pop voice has husks of country-soul within. Her original material has choruses that you think you’ve heard before – always a good sign unless you have actually heard them before and you’re watching a plagiarist. I don’t think that Ella is though. She does a cover of a Basement Jaxx tune after asking the crowd if they know of the duo. Few seem to and I suddenly feel very old.
Jacob, the guitarist, plays a couple of songs before George Balkwill takes to the stage for his twenty minutes in the limelight. I really want to like George because, off stage, he has done everything right. Knowing that I’d be showing up to the Lucky Pig, I had liked, in advance, a FB group that George has established to promote the gig. Total stranger that I am, he made the time and effort to chat with me before his set knowing my name, thanking me for coming along and being generally engaging. He sits attentively watching the other acts as he plays and praises the venue at every opportunity.
It’s a damn good thing that George is good. He has songs about toxic relationships and being addicted to love but his voice is more indie Sting than Robert Palmer. At his best, his travelling troubadour style even gets the loud elements of the crowd to stop and listen for some temporary respite. He’s a nice lad and his manner will take him far.
The final act of the night, EPONINE, starts with a gentle jazz cover. This young lad can clearly play but the noise from the pissed-up patrons has got too much for me and I leave to cross town.
The Lucky Pig is a fine place to have a cocktail but not a fine place to watch music it would seems