These days I tend to shy away from the masses on New Year’s Eve preferring small numbers of good friends, a medium number of hot caffeinated drinks and infinite amounts of cheese, cold-meats and pickles. This year was all set for a similar style of celebration until just before Christmas I had a call from one of my oldest friends and singing partner, Mike Wilson, saying that we’d been invited to the Bellowhedonism New Years Eve party and would I like to come.
The plan was to host a singing and music session in an upstairs function room in The Southbank Centre – effectively a chill out zone for folkies. I wasn’t 100% convinced that a chill out zone was entirely necessary at a Bellowhead gig nor that Mike and I were really appropriate for the task in hand. After all, everyone knows that coming down too hard, too fast can be extremely dangerous and although I have sufficient insurance to cover a small herd of primary school children wielding rapper swords and morris sticks I didn’t think Mike would be covered for such eventualities. Nevertheless, I’d hardly left the house over the festive period and Bellowhead seemed like just the people to help to shake off the remnants of 2010 with. Besides I was now in serious danger of starting 2011 off on the wrong side of Tiny if she didn’t get to see the fireworks – without a bang so to speak.
The theme for the party was ‘The Circus’ and when we first arrived it was obvious that there was going to be some great entertainment in store for the 2000 or so audience that were about to descend. The hall had been decked with the usual party gear along with various circus props; trapezes, plastic elephants, human cannons etc, although I was glad to see there was a notable absence of paraphernalia in the room that was set aside upstairs for chillaxing and the like.
Unfortunately I never got to see any of the circus routines as, apart from a false start, there was a constant supply of souls in need of holistic respite from what I can only assume was total and complete mayhem downstairs. We kept the session going (with the much appreciated help of Laurel Swift, Ali Ingham, Philippe Barnes, Matt Quinn, Keith Kendrick, Sylvia Needham and a number of volunteers from the floor) for about 3 hours until at 11.45pm we downed tools (in my case my concertina and in Mike’s, another bottle of lager) and emptied out onto the balcony for the countdown. The fireworks were to say the least, impressive, and although many have spoken out against the waste of such social accessories, I personally feel they’re most definitely one of the better uses for gunpowder.
After the short celebrations outside we all filed back inside for the final set of Bellowhead, this time we were free from our medical duties and so joined the rest of the party in the foyer where Bellowhead were firing on all 11 cylinders and continued to play long into the night.
All in all is was a great night out and it only occurred to me later what an amazing achievement it was – one of the largest arts venues in the Capital hosting a major event based around traditional English folk music on New Year’s Eve. The scene has definately come a long way since I started out and it was wonderful to be part of.
My only disappointment was a sever lack of ‘old acquaintances being forgot’ as Big Ben dinged his twelfth dong…must be a Northern thing.