I arrive early at the Concorde 2 to find a room brimming with anticipation and excitement. The audience is ready to party boasting brightly-coloured swing dresses, waist coats, 50’s suits and Handlebar moustaches (to name a few).
I manage to catch the support act – ‘Swingrowers’ (from Sicily) who did an excellent job of setting the tone for the rest of the evening with their own style of electro swing twists and beats. Loredana Grimaudo, had charming stage presence, whilst belting out incredible melodies and catchy riffs.
The room was packed during the support slot, but as members of Caravan Palace began to stir on stage, more people than I imagined possible flooded into the main room of The Concorde 2. As soon as Colotis Zoe (singer/front woman) appeared on stage – the crowd went wild. They clearly knew what to expect from Caravan Palace.
Zoe was dressed in a black, high-top blouse and a long net skirt, which she began using almost as a prop in her performance. Not even halfway through the first song, she whipped it off to reveal another skirt underneath. For those who have seen Caravan Palace before will be aware of Zoe’s well renowned wardrobe change throughout the set. I counted a total of 5 outfit changes during the show which all received tremendous cheers and whistles of approval. As Zoe isn’t on stage during the entire set, it allows her time backstage to change and also to re-charge her batteries – so when she comes back, she gives a high energy performance. During this time, the lead is handed over to the violinist/scat singer Hugues Payen and Clarinet player ‘Chapi’ who work exceptionally well together as a performance duo keeping the audience jumping up and down and engaged.
During the song ‘Rock It For Me’, one member joins Zoe at the front of the stage for a ‘dance off’ during the instrumental. This traditional swing-style dance is beautifully choreographed all the way through, ending with one of the tech guys crossing the stage with precision timing to hand back Zoe’s microphone leading effortlessly into the chorus. The crowd responded to this with a roof lifting, foot stomping scream.
This is clearly a band that is madly in love with music as well as creating, gigging, performing and travelling the world. No matter where you look, you are blasted with and an electric energy from all seven members of Caravan Palace, but the thing that comes across most of all is their enjoyment of the performance. None of them stop to rest, all moving to the beats with their instruments until sweat is visibly dripping off them.
At the end of their set they are greeted with a roaring encore from the audience, after which they rejoined us with a foot-stomping ‘Jolie Coquine’ then proceeded to come to the front of the stage and give a mighty bow, with smiles the size of saucers and thanked the audience for joining them, leaving an emotional blanket of warmth and happiness that we all took home (along with very achy muscles the next day!)