Gig review: Massive Violins at Cecil Sharp House, 17 December

Whilst searching for gigs in London earlier this month, I stumbled upon a band called Massive Violins.

Comprising of seven talented cellists, this London-based group perform a range of eclectic covers. Being their Christmas concert, I was swayed by the prospect of jazzy festive music – and thanks to my penchant for eclectic music, I booked a couple of tickets without even listening to any of their material, which is definitely a first for me! (On a side note, I also may have been aware that one of the members happens to be in one of my favourite bands who I’ve seen live a fair few times, so I had it on good authority that the performance would be wonderful anyway.)

After a brief stop at Hache in Camden (no gig night is complete without a delicious stop-off beforehand!) we arrived at Cecil Sharp House on a cold and slightly drizzly Wednesday evening. If you have never been to Cecil Sharp House, it’s a lovely little venue a couple of streets away from London Zoo. When we got into the Main Hall, we were greeted by stunning murals in the hall, and this lovely festive stage set-up:


The gig was sold out, so we were quite fortunate that we got there in good time and got seats in the front row. The audience of around 400 people settled down as the band came out, dressed in pretty festive and dapper outfits. Guido was wearing quite possibly the most fabulous gold boots I’ve ever seen! Anyway, I digress…

They played a genuinely really eclectic, lovely set. I’m shamelessly quite a music geek so I knew most of the lyrics to the songs they covered, and it was a fantastic mix of Christmas songs, old school classics, and some contemporary songs mixed in too. This is most of what they played (couldn’t quite remember them all!)

Santa Baby by Eartha Kitt

All About That Bass by Meghan Trainor: Normally I run away covering my ears and yelling from anywhere playing Meghan Trainor – even my local gym! – but this was wonderfully done and I was actually surprised how much better it sounds accompanied by a cello!)

Good Vibrations by the Beach Boys

White Christmas by Bing Crosby

Everywhere by Fleetwood Mac

I Saw Mommy* Kissing Santa Claus by the Jackson Five: *The lyrics changed to ‘Daddy’ a little while into the song, which was pretty funny

Marshmallow World by Carl Sigman: Made even better by the fact they were tossing free marshmallows into the crowd:

Free marshmallows for all! (well, most of us anyway)

Free marshmallows for all! (well, most of us anyway)

Walking In The Air by Peter Auty: The Snowman was, and is still, my favourite childhood Christmas film, so it was lovely to listen to this live the week before Christmas)

Rather Be by Clean Bandit: As I mentioned before, one member of Massive Violins – Grace – happens to be in one of my favourite bands, a little-known group you may/may not have heard of… 😉 So it was no surprise that they played this. I’ve seen Clean Bandit perform this a few times (at Tate Britain, Shepherd’s Bush Empire, Sziget Festival, and Brixton Academy) and fell in love with Rather Be when it came out – much to the chagrin of my partner and house mate! – so hearing it with a cello accompaniment was truly wonderful. I may have had goosebumps.. and a bit too much of my G&T by this point. (Also may have spotted the violinist from Clean Bandit a few seats away from me, and might have had a minor *fangirl* moment… I like to think I styled it out…!

Somethin’ Stupid by Frank Sinatra (a classic)

Ring of Fire by Johnny Cash

Somebody to Love by Queen

The Girl In The Little Green Hat by George Olsen: Massive Violins selected someone from the audience to perform on the cello for this song. I was a little sceptical, but of course the audience member happened to be a real whizz on the cello… it turned out to be Robert Maxwell, who is a well-known conductor!

Mr Blue Sky by ELO: One of my favourite Seventies songs!

When I’m 64*: *Richard performed this but changed it to “When I’m 65”, which was lovely

Stan by Eminem: One of my favourite early Eminem songs, which features Dido in the original. Grace sang, they also tweaked the original words, my favourite bit being when one of the band mentioned they couldn’t care less about Grace’s tea going cold and she couldn’t help but laugh mid-song!

I Need A Dollar by Aloe Blacc: Again, I love this song, so it was a surprise but great to hear

Sex On The Beach by The Vengaboys: As a child of the Nineties, I am all for cheesy pop covers… although I never thought I’d hear this cover performed by Richard – who happens to be Grace’s dad! (If you haven’t heard the original, Google it.. you’re in for a treat!)

All I Want For Christmas by Mariah Carey: Again, being a 90s kid, this is one of my favourite Christmas songs. I’m surprised they didn’t cover the Pogues though, maybe one for next Christmas…?

They did a few other songs, including some beautiful classical pieces. It’s so refreshing to see artists that are classically trained being so open minded and incorporating such a variety of different classic songs into their repertoire. Camilla and Jess also sang beautifully.

They’re performing again in January, and I’m hoping to get tickets! We bought their album after the show, cleverly titled Bowing 24/7. Already can’t wait to see them perform again. If you’ve seen them perform too, leave your thoughts below!



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