The Clapham Grand is a Victorian theatre of which the interior has been transformed into a disco paradise. A gigantic disco ball hangs over the stage, while coloured squares light up the dancefloor, and every surface has been somehow lavishly decorated. And yet this doesn’t feel like the huge corporate venue that you would expect a band of Shalamar’s stature to play at; The Grand is smaller, more intimate, and made us feel as glamorous as we imagine nights out were in Shalamar’s heyday! (Maybe they weren’t, but we can dream.)
The main act came on after a fantastic DJ set, full of 70s and 80s boogie-inducing bangers that got us well warmed up. Shalamar currently features original members Jeffrey Daniel and Howard Hewitt, alongside a more recent addition, Caroline Griffey, who is the daughter of Dick Griffey, Solar Records CEO and Shalamar founder. Their voices appear to have barely changed since their hits came out, and still have ridiculous amounts of energy for all those funky formation dance moves. It's not surprising when you realise that Jeffrey was a Soul Train dancer, and also choreographed some Michael Jackson videos, as well as teaching MJ the famous moonwalk.
This killer lineup, along with their breathtakingly skilled band, are certainly keeping the 80s disco dream alive. Their main hits, There It Is, I Can Make you Feel Good and The Second Time Around, as well as their new material, sounded fiery and fresh, with all the joie-de-vivre that you’d expect from a band who were enjoying their first year of success, not their 40th! As we mentioned earlier, the thing we really loved about this gig was how different it was to the usual state of affairs for a long-established, mainstream act. There was no gigantic arena, no tacky backdrops, no sense of over-production and the thing that really made this special was the competency and fun-loving attitude of these incredible performers.
Shalamar also have a bunch of other UK dates, so we'd urge you to go see them in all their glory. We also stayed on for the after party, which continued the nostalgic theme, playing a mixture of classics from Marvin Gaye to Destiny’s child. This is a regular night at The Grand and we highly recommend you go check it out!