Last night, the people of London were “Lost in Music” as the iconic disco groups, Sister Sledge and The Real Thing transported attendees to the 70s, as the Royal Albert Hall became London’s very own Studio 54. With a soundtrack that consisted of the hit songs “Thinking of You”, “We Are Family” and “You to Me Are Everything”, both acts brought the house down and made sure that everyone was up and moving with the beat.
Of course the Royal Albert Hall needs no introduction. Everyone whose anyone has played there and upon entrance I was greeted with a collage of said artists which was like a Where’s Wally book crossed with the Sgt Peppers album cover. Once I stepped into the hall however, I was taken aback by how gorgeous and grand the building was. I’ve been to many different venues big and small but nothing has the history seeping through its walls quite like the Royal Albert Hall.
French producer and DJ, Dimitri from Paris, was in command of the stage as we took our seats and he instantly had the crowd in the mood to dance with disco and club classics that were remixed to make the most out of their driving beats. Luther Vandross’ “Never Too Much” was a highlight for myself and the crowd as everyone shot up at the sound of its instantly recognisable intro. At the end of his set there was a quick stage change and then it was time for Liverpool’s other Fab Four, The Real Thing.
I was very excited to see what was in store with this group. They’re a band that had an excellent string of hits in the late 70s with songs like “Can’t Get By Without You” and “Can You Feel the Force?”, which were both performed alongside their socially conscious classic “Children of the Ghetto”. The latter song was dedicated to the members of the band who are no longer with us, Ray Lake who died in 2000 and Eddie Amoo in 2018. This made the already beautiful and profound song have even more impact as Chris Amoo took on the singing duties with his deep, breathy voice.
Their band was very tight and with every song being an extended piece that encouraged the crowd to dance and sing along, they certainly made the most of their time on stage. For the crowd however, it felt that The Real Thing were like a bomb ready to explode at the first sound of their number 1 hit “You to Me Are Everything”. Once that bomb went off, there was no going back - everyone was ready to party.
When it comes to partying then we need look no further than the main event of the evening, Sister Sledge. With songs that were written and produced by Nile Rogers and Bernie Edwards this group cemented themselves as the queens of disco. This sense of royalty was on display last night as they entered with fabulous sequin costumes and synchronised dance moves. Every hit was performed and the whole crowd was up and dancing the whole time. Much like the previous act, Sister Sledge’s band were tight and kept the dancing beat going all night long. Many of the songs were extended and had extra power brought to them such as a performance of Chic’s “Good Times” that featured a section of The Sugarhill Gang’s “Rappers Delight” with Sledge centric lyrics, and a final performance of “We Are Family” that brought everyone together in a way that only music can.
As well as the hits that were expected there were a couple of surprises in store for the audience. The first of which was a guest appearance by jazz pianist Niels Lan Doky, who performed a beautiful ballad with Debbie Sledge on vocals. The second surprise was a performance of their new song “Free”. New songs from classic artists are always a risky performance at live shows but this one certainly got the crowd excited with a feel of the Rogers/Edwards years, particularly in the funky guitar playing.
It was an amazing and memorable night and as a first time visit to the Royal Albert Hall, it couldn’t have been any better! Thank you to Dayna Jeynes and Voice Magazine for giving me this opportunity! Lastly, I must mention that as the main event took stage, a group of six ladies in front of me were doing their own synchronised dancing and if that doesn’t show the power of a group like Sister Sledge, then I don’t know what does!