This week’s London Shoes trek out focussed on one of its favourite blog topics – ‘live’ music.
As with a number of my previously published music related blogs, this week’s subject matter originates from my association with ‘Gentleman’ George Double, my old drum tutor from my days when I was working at Barclays in Mare Street-Hackney throughout the 1990’s – where George was one of my customers. Today, George is one of the most renowned drummers on the London jazz scene
Earlier this week, the amazing ‘Chris Ingham Trio’ (with George Double on drums) backed the excellent ‘Sara Dowling’ in the performance of her extremely popular “The Jazz of Judy Garland” set. Sara Dowling currently holds the accolade of having been voted the UK’s top jazz vocalist of 2019.
The venue in question for this particular gig was the famous “Crazy Coqs” club located in the heart of London’s Piccadilly district.
The ‘Crazy Coqs’ venue itself, is a place with its own amazing history.
Crazy Coqs is contained within the ‘Brasserie Zedel’ which was once part of the iconic “Regent Palace Hotel” that opened in 1915 and at that time, it was the largest hotel in Europe, with 1,028 bedrooms and employing over 1,000 staff.
The interior of the old Regent Palace Hotel was designed like the inside of one of the old transatlantic liners of those times, with a grand marble entrances, chandeliers, a winter garden with palm trees and with maid service at its tables.
The ‘Regent Palace Hotel’ was owned and run by the globally renowned ‘Joe Lyons” of the J. Lyons tea-shop fame, whose aim was to provide posh establishments that the average man-on-the-street could afford to visit and receive ‘silver-service’ treatment.
In the early 1930’s J. Lyons & Co commissioned ‘Oliver Bernard’– one of Britain’s top architects of the day – to completely redesign the entire interior of its Regent Palace Hotel. Oliver Bernard was already working for J. Lyons as a consultant and had been instrumental in designing its extremely popular tea-houses that were scattered across London’s West End, and also its prestigious ‘Strand Palace Hotel’.
His design work on the Regent Palace Hotel refurb, featured all the popular art-deco styles of the day – and was amusingly described by experts as being “just a trifle dissipating and naughty – but not sufficiently so, to be vulgar”.
By 1934 Oliver Bernard had changed the Hotel’s once grand billiard room, into the ‘Chez Cup Bar’ – and it is this room that is now todays “Crazy Coqs” venue, where ‘Shoes’ went to see the Sara Dowling’s ‘The Jazz of Judy Garland’ gig, backed by the Chris Ingham Trio.
Sadly, the Regent Palace Hotel suffered considerable bomb damage in WW2, and over the following decades it fell upon hard times and as a result, its once high standards declined rather rapidly, and the Hotel eventually closed down in the early 2000’s.
However, in 2004 the ‘Crown Estates’ (who owned the land that the Hotel was built on) commissioned the redevelopment of this once grand building, to bring it back to its original art-deco style splendour – and it has gone from strength to strength from there on with its ‘Zedel Brassiere’ restaurant and bars and of course it’s ‘Crazy Coqs’ entertainment venue.
Today, the interior of the building is said to be the best example of an original art-deco interior in the UK – gaining it a Grade II Listed protection status.
So – back to the gig itself.
The ‘Crazy Coqs’ venue was a full-house for the Sara Dowling performance, and because I was fortunate to be part of the band’s entourage for the evening, I was able to get some photos of the venue ‘pre-gig’ before it started to fill up with punters – and also photos of Sara Dowling and the Chris Ingham Trio going through their sound-check.
The ‘Chris Ingham Trio’ consisting of Chris Ingham on piano – Dario DiLecce on double bass – George Double on drums, put in a brilliant performance backing the excellent Sara Dowling as she performed her ‘Jazz of Judy Garland’ set, with classics such as:- Get Happy–Better Luck Next Time – It Only Happens When I Dance with You – The Man That Got Away – The Boy Next Door – plus many more.
Between each number Sara provided the audience with an informative story of the history behind each song – which the punters really loved – and I was fortunate enough to be side-stage to capture some photos of the performance.
The audience were very receptive to the performance and lapped it up – and of course Sara & the band were called back for an encore, which obviously just had to be their rendition of Judy Garland’s most iconic song ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’….what else could it have been!!
So – a great night’s entertainment down at ‘Crazy Coqs’ – and another venue added to the London Shoes ‘been there-done that’ list.
Hope you enjoyed my little ‘Crazy Coqs’ & its accompanying photos. 🐓😉
Below are all of the photographs relating to the Crazy Coqs blog