Tony Moore, the founder of the legendary Kashmir Klub, knows a thing or two about finding the best of upcoming talent, previously launching the careers of KT Tunstall, Damien Rice, The Feeling and Imogen Heap. We were treated to a lovely new night of musical magnificence, for free right here in central London, Tony’s latest instalment, Rock The Strand at The Strand Palace.
Held in the newly refurbished lounge bar you’ll find a cosy and intimate venue, sitting so close to the performers you could reach out and touch them (if you really got the urge to).
The format is simple and pared back, but punchy and to the point. Tony curates it, drawing upon a wealth of superb talent he has under his sleeve from the vast history of putting on shows just like this little gem. When asked about how he reaches the decision of who to promote, he says himself that he is in fact “spoilt for choice and has to select from hundreds of artists”.
First up, our ears were tickled by the wonderful sounds of Jack Francis, a singer/songwriter from Southampton, regularly gigging on the London scene. The sweet warm tone of his Fender, doubled up with a voice that runs parallel to Elbow’s Guy Garvey, immediately drew the room in. Painting soundscapes with songs like Sunkissed and Cigarettes and Silhouettes and hitting the high notes to perfection, it was certainly a well-executed performance.
After a small break, the second act was up: Ilona really is a truly original performer. You’d be forgiven if you thought you were hearing Nirvana, with the opening stonky chords and a gritty top tone to the guitar; turn to the right and there’s an amazingly cool girl on bass giving a slap, pop, and mixing it up with slides up and down the fret board. With songs like Safety Net, Ilona really connected with the crowd and made them part of her act. With Tony Moore himself playing guitar and lending support to the backing vocals, even if you tried, it would be seriously hard not to like this act.
The whole feel of the night is relaxed, and it’s easy to stay around and chat to the performers. Usually egos get the better of some, becoming little tin gods of themselves that feel unapproachable. But there is nothing about this night is unapproachable – the crowd were great, really respectful, and loving the music. Tony Moore is happy to speak to everyone there, ensuring a good time is had by all, and bringing a personal vibe to proceedings.
In these days of shiny perfection and overproduced stadium shows it was a breath of fresh air to go to an intimate live music event that was well curated, with superbly talented acts. The production and sound were spot on, something that you don’t often find at such small venues. If Tony is spoilt for choice with artists, then we can’t wait for the next instalment.
It’s absolutely free. It’s central. It’s quality artists with quality sound equipment, good vibes and good people.
Our advice? Leave any pretence at the door and get down to The Lounge and Rock The Strand.
Rock The Strand is held the fourth Thursday of every month. The Lounge Bar at The Strand Palace Hotel 372 The Strand London WC2R 0JJ Nearest Tube Charing Cross