‘AVE A BANANA!
If these grey, blustery days are getting you down, we’ve got the perfect cure. Get yourself down to Wilton’s Music Hall in East London, and sing yourself hoarse at a raucous, foot-stamping, old fashioned Cockney knees-up, presided over by the ever-dapper (and magnificently moustachioed) Tom Carradine.
The venue is a genuine 19th century music hall, a rare hidden gem tucked away down a side street a short walk from the Tower of London. Inside, its faded colours and slightly peeling beauty (currently undergoing painstaking restoration work) combine with fairy lights and gorgeous period details including a soaring upper gallery and cast iron pillars to create a dreamlike effect, a ghostly glimpse of a long-vanished time.
Inside, throngs of people – some in vintage dress, others bowling up in jeans or officewear – gather around the piano to forget their troubles and spend the next two hours singing their hearts out.
The programme contains something for everyone, from music hall standards to more modern popular hits, while Tom’s ever-popular Wartime Medley sees union flags unfurl as the notes of There’s Always Be An England, and Keep The Home Fires Burning ring out.
Before you protest that you ‘don’t do public singing’, wait until you’re sitting in a room full of people roaring along to Cockney classics like Roll out the Barrel; embracing their inner urchin during the Oliver! medley; or plotting to poison pigeons with a cheeky bit of Tom Lehrer.
A particular highlight of last night was when Tom struck up with the rather more recent Those were the Days, and the whole hall exploded into spontaneous foot-stamping, hand-clapping joy. When there’s a singalong in session, Wilton’s has to be one of the happiest places in London. Go on – it’s good for the soul. And anyway, there’s a bar to keep you well stocked with Dutch courage.
Singalongs take place every month, with the repertoire varying slightly to introduce spring songs, love songs, Christmas songs, etc as appropriate – though rest assured you’ll be able to sing My Old Man’s A Dustman and Knees Up Mother Brown whenever you go.
It’s an enormously entertaining night out, and also remarkably good value, with tickets priced as ‘pay what you can’, and a hat passed around for tips in the interval. Bring your friends, grab a drink, and sing yourselves silly. You won’t find fun like it anywhere else.
Wilton’s Music Hall’s website is: https://wiltons.org.uk/
Address: Wilton’s Music Hall, Graces Alley, London, E1 8JB