Disco and gospel are two genres that always blend together gloriously, so when Nicky Siano and XOYO announced that they would be putting on ‘Hallelujah Disco’, with a gospel choir supporting Siano’s DJ set, we were very excited. First off, XOYO is a perfect venue (when it isn’t overcrowded), and on this occasion it was eerily empty upstairs, compared to its usual sweaty over-booked self; this might be due to the last minute time change of the event. However, downstairs Nicky Siano was already spinning on the decks, blasting out tracks like ‘Funkin’ For Jamaica’ for the people already grooving, ready for the London International Gospel Choir’s performance.
Thirteen members of LIGC came on stage and got the crowd moving straight from the beginning, they worked together with Nicky Siano (on mixing duties) so well that it felt like they had been collaborating for years. The entire performance was impressive, especially considering they had not rehearsed together with Siano at all (he had only arrived in London that very day), the choir were on point and in time throughout the set. The list of tracks for the choir were both entertaining and educational, we discovered some great gospel disco songs, like ‘We’re Getting Stronger’ by Loleatta Holloway, which you may recognise from the sample in ‘Million Dollar Bill’ by Whitney Houston. As well as introducing us to some tunes we didn’t know, they performed classics like the Larry Levan mix of ‘Stand On The Word’ by the Joubert Singers, and of course ‘Ain’t No Mountain High Enough’ had to be on the set list.
The sound system at XOYO is one of the best in London, so by having a wonderful range of vocalists combined with disco DJ legend Siano it all sounded bloody glorious. It felt like the closest we’d been to attending The Gallery (one of Siano’s original haunts in Manhattan) with Siano’s records playing as clear as day. Nicky Siano was the ‘first original DJ at Studio 54. [He] Played at all the cubs of the 70s’, so he is a true legend and effectively one of the first ever DJs by today’s definition.
You could see that Siano was really comfortable and at home behind the tables, his energy during the choir collab was amazing, one of our highlights was seeing him singing along with LIGC and dancing with one hand on the mixer, because that’s what you want from a performance like this. Siano’s set was pure energy and Gallery anthems, playing tracks like Odyssey’s ‘Native New Yorker’ and Dimitri from Paris’ remix of ‘Lost in Music’ by Sister Sledge. The whole event proved a model for other club nights to consider, there is something about combining a DJ set with live music that elevates all kinds of clubbing, similar to when Fever 105 or Jazz Cafe bring on a live band at around 1am, this is the way forward in our eyes. So hats off to Siano and LIGC for leading the way with this type of event, and putting on a spectacular show, hopefully others will take note and begin to reinvent the definition of a club night.