Back in December, 2017, I heard about a new live music venue opening in Worcester.
Billed as a music cafe-bar , it was offering live music events, food, rehearsal space for bands. It sounded like my ideal hangout. I also heard that it only had a capacity of 80, which was split between 2 “rooms”, the main bar area, and a room off to the side where bands would perform. It was hard to visualise but I was desperate to check it out. In their first few months they hosted several gigs and the feedback I was hearing was only adding to my desire to go, but gigs clashed with other commitments.
Until Friday 30th March. Good Friday. My son was away, my other half was working, I had a free pass!
Paradiddles, the new venue developed over two years by Kit and Rachel, is a space designed for socialising, relaxing and offering an interactive space for creative arts. That particular night, professional West Midlands function band, Polkadot Robot, were hosting a “Bandeoke” night. Band members Kerry, Chris and Crag replaced their usual singer Lucy, with a host of guest singers brave enough to take to the stage to sing one of the songs that had been listed on social media in the previous weeks.
Arriving early so L could set up her camera equipment, the bar area was already filling up, but despite the cold, wet, weather, the atmosphere inside was warm and welcoming. In the second room, the band were setting up and sound checking. The room seemed small and I was still intrigued and apprehensive as to how the evening would pan out.
Opening the night was Ed Steelefox, locally known for his DJ skills rather than singing, treating us to a rendition of Sweet Disposition. Around me the room had filled, but it didn’t feel cramped, it felt “inclusive” , everyone there to share a fun night of live music, smiles and laughter, including the owners.
As the night progressed, singers young and old took to the stage, covering a wide range of musical genres. We had the likes of Paulina singing Holiday by Green Day, a very charismatic performer full of stage presence and confidence that had the crowd singing along.
Becki brought sass to Tainted Love and Valerie with a surprisingly powerful voice from her little frame, a lovely soulful voice that belonged in the spotlight.
Having only recently ventured into this live music blogging malarkey, I’ve become familiar with names of people involved in the local music scene, and Paradiddles gave me the opportunity to put faces to names. Chris Burton took to the stage to sing Welcome to the Monkey House, a song drummer Crag was so adamant no-one would choose, he vowed to eat his shoe if they did. True to his word, Crag swallowed a piece of shaved off Converse with a drink, certifiably confirming this as the most random night I’ve blogged about.
Owner Kit also took to the stage, with the energy to match his choice of song, Hotel Yorba by The White Stripes, his long hair flowing wildy across his face until it was tamed by the introduction of his woolly hat. The crowd was singing along, everyone having so much fun.
One of my favourite songs, Mr Brightside was performed by Jess, who is in her own local band The Social Outcasts. She was followed by another young and upcoming local artist, Alec, from 3WOD , who put his heart and soul into a version of “Hate to say I told you so” by The Hives, showing the expression and passion of a born performer.
As the evening went on, a few singers that had signed up to sing weren’t there, but there was no shortage of brave souls offering to step up to the stage, meaning we got unprepared performances of songs such as Rebel Yell by Billy Idol. Beer in hand, belting out the words, these were the true stars of the night, stepping in so that the party didn’t stop.
Some singers were awesome, others just there to have fun, some rather tipsy, but no-one judged, criticised or berated anyone onstage, the general consensus was that everyone enjoyed everyone who performed. As each “performer” took the stage, the audience changed, making way for friends and family members to savour the enjoyment of seeing their nearest and dearest having an amazing time.
The second half kicked off with the crowd helping Jess out with Ghostbusters, you seriously couldn’t get a wider variety of music packed into one night. The Power of Love sung by Siãn, Parklife sung by Emilie and Summer of 69 performed by Allan, amongst others got the bandeoke treatment. Becki, with Man, I feel like a woman and Mercy, and Paulina with 1985 and Pour Some Sugar on me, came back for more of the adrenaline rush being in the spotlight was offering.
A guy named Chris shocked everyone by hitting the high notes usually left to The Darkness frontman Justin when he sang “I believe in a thing called love” and was clearly a crowd pleaser as he sang two more songs to the cheers and encouragement of the cosy gathering crowd. Loving the attention and enjoying being on stage…fully embracing the whole feel of the evening.
Two young girls sang together, choosing 2003 song “Are you gonna be girl” by Jet, showing that it was an evening that everyone could get involved with, whatever their musical tastes of preferences.
The night ended with Alec heroically learning Rock and Roll Star in just ten minutes after the original singer didn’t show, and left the crowd singing along with an epic 90s anthem.
Polkadot Robot were flawless throughout the whole evening, despite the change in tempo and genre, they kept going effortlessly from one song to the next, showcasing their skill and talent and loving every minute of it! No technical issues, no lull, no loss of energy. Full speed from start to finish. The venue was perfect for the occasion, as I popped to the bar the music could still be heard and enjoyed by those wishing to stay seated in the bar area, under the cymbal lightshades and next to Animal from The Muppets playing the drums in the door way.
Bandeoke is not a concept I’d ever come across before, but the organisation and execution of the event has definitely made me want to go along to future gigs at Paradiddles, and any other events where I’ll see Polkadot Robot. 10/10 to all involved.
Paradiddles are quoted as saying that they believe in music being “The Great Communicator” , and from my position at the back of the room, watching and listening to everything going on, they have well and truly created the space they wanted to, which was based around “music, connectivity and communication” . For that night at least, we were all connected by the love, fun and buzz created by music.
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