Tis definitely the season, for a turn up and the reason for a good old reload.
After a momentous year which has seen them wow crowds at some of Britain’s biggest festivals including Latitude and Bestival, supporting Kylie Minogue and taking in shows from Ibiza to Denmark, House Gospel Choir have firmly established themselves as a feel good musical force to be reckoned with.
Selling out KOKO Camden is always impressive but doing so this close to Christmas is particularly noteworthy. I’ve been to many gigs here before, in months and on days seemingly better placed, yet I’ve not witnessed this kind of beautifully diverse crowd or such potent, raw and splendorous energy amongst it.
Founded by Natalie Maddix on a dance floor in 2011, House Gospel Choir fuse the abundant lift and gift of life found in pure gospel music, with signature house, garage and rare groove tunes that have become staples on dance floors and in the UK underground music scene, and by fusing it they champion it too.
They also embody the identity of a modern Britain that feels authentic, hopeful and harmonious and seeing them stride onto stage tonight is a beautiful sight, with different races, ages, genders, styles, shapes and sizes all represented.
As they say, “We can’t all speak at the same time and have our voices heard but we can sing together as one voice and be understood. We are one”.
This is a particularly timely and powerful message in the difficult times we are living and surely it goes some way to filling the crowd with a sense of unity and joy but the show itself is a kinetic, considered and cultural feast for the senses.
It begins with a video montage that combines old school rave and clubbing footage with a voiceover from Maddix. Here she extols the impact her gospel background, house music and dance floors had on her and it is quickly followed up with our first taste of the choir, who look both resplendent, regal and relaxed in a combo of colourful shoes, accessories, t-shirts and even sequin skirts.
House Gospel Choir represent a living, breathing, sparkling, shape cutting, stunning, brilliant and beautifully harmonious vision of Britain’s past, present and future.
From then we are thrust into a wild mix of covers that run the gamut of garage, rare groove, house, RnB, hip hop and any other infectious turn up vibes you didn’t know you were in need of. It’s almost a journey through the ages for those of a certain age (me) and it’s impossible not to cut some shapes, sing along and let your heart soar.
They also manage to squeeze in a mini tribute to Aretha Franklin, Christmas songs, some pure Gospel and a Dancehall/Afro Beat fusion to round the evening off. However a real delight is a surprise proposal by a group member to his girlfriend in the audience. This gig was already getting five stars but when that happened and she said yes… then it was definitely getting all the stars.
Seeing that happen was almost the epitome of Christmas spirit and if your Christmas is all figgy pudding and unwanted socks, then you missed a chance to have a slice of this and a chance to absolutely dance your socks off.
For me HGC represent a living, breathing, sparkling, shape cutting, stunning, brilliant and beautifully harmonious vision of Britain’s past, present and future.
They offer a life-affirming lesson in how the power of song and UK underground music has often united this country and how influential that culture has been to multiculturalism and also the evolution of modern British music. It is an often-overlooked fact, so huge credit must go to them for travelling with this message.
So I suggest you seek them out at their next festival or live show, bring your sequins, perfect your Electric Slide because simply put, you’ll leave feeling alive.