Normally here on DT we avoid clubs and stick to real, actual live music, but it’s Saturday night in London Town’s most self-consciously hip district, which usually means cocktails in a former bomb shelter surrounded by pencil ‘tashed hipsters. But despite the lure of Deep House and hen parties at nearby Axis, we’ve managed to get ourselves down to Shoreditch High Street, avoided trying to sneak into Shoreditch house, and made it into Concrete for a night of retro thrills courtesy of new concern The Record Player….
Usually home to the sort of banging trance that activates my heat vision, Concrete has so far evaded the DT team’s attentions, so it’s with some trepidation that we venture into the oily depths beneath trendy eaterie Pizza East to be confronted by..well..concrete. Now, I’m sure this is meant to be ‘construction chic’ or something, but basically it boils down to a large room resembling an underground car park, a few candles and tables made from laminated chip-board. Let’s just say it won’t be appearing on Grand Designs anytime soon.
But it’s the crowd and the choons that matter right? And with The Record Club, Concrete could be onto a winner.
It’s a simple enough conceit – pick a year and stick to it for music, and get the crowd to vote for a top twenty. For this opening salvo we’re in 1979, so let’s see if our childhood memories stand up to the merciless alcoholic glare.
We arrived early, and there’s a weirdly school disco ambiance going on in the still pretty empty room at the start. Elvis Costello and similar new wave angular tunes are mixing it up with some stone cold classic disco as a small group of girls nervously edge onto the stage, while the rest of the room hug the bar and try to avoid the mechanical death-eyes of Margaret Thatcher. The Iron Lady goggling down at us from giant spirit of ’79 posters planted about the place. For a while we’re worried –sure the music’s good, but it’s too quiet and no-one’s dancing. As your intrepid DT staffer has the coordination of a dead pig on a skateboard we stick to the atrociously overpriced cocktails as the huge space very, very slowly starts to fill up.
Of course, we are also old people so have forgotten that young ‘uns these days don’t get started until at least midnight. Sure enough, the witching hour strikes, the place fills up and the sounds go up to eleven. And what sounds –everything from Donna Summer and MJ to AC/DC and Bowie –it’s eclectic, but for the most part electric.
The stage fills up and is helped along in no small part by DT’s official hero of the night, a velour suit-clad dandy with a nice line in bizarre Leslie Phillip’s-esque dance moves; he’s covered in bust ladeez despite being camp as a legion of scouts and none the worse for it. Eventually even we hit the floor and have a bloody good time. If there’s a downside it’s that it’s a little too busy, with an uncomfortable number of pissed-up 40 something blokes staggering about and adding a greasy undercurrent to proceedings, and an inexperienced DJ duo who really need to pay more attention to the mood of the room in order to keep the vibe flowing.
Small concerns –a little crowd control and the chance to settle in will sort them out –follow The Record Player on Facebook in the meantime – 1990 is up next so dig out those whistles and white gloves -based on opening night it should be a fun, unself-conscious event that deserves to be a success.