With the ever-increasing arrival of Christmas, comes the Christmas Spiegeltent in Bristol! No self-respecting city is without some kind of wooden shack at Christmas and Bristol is no exception. However, this year brings a whole new vibe to the festive cheer. With a line-up including Massive Attack’s Daddy G, Eva Lazarus, The Invisible and Ghostpoet, the Spiegeltent brings a true festive gem for the Bristol crowd.
The Invisible have already started as we pour in, emanating funk laced pop throughout the Spiegeltent. Anyone that's ever been to Bestival may recognise the deep golden wood of the Spiegeltent as Club Dada, with infamous Hillbilly hoedowns. But there's no cowboy theme here, with regal reds and tinsel adorning the venue. With the Invisible's performance well under way, Dave Okum, the singer and guitarist of the three piece, adds extended outros to the tracks bringing a whole new jazzy element to their neo-soul infused set. Closing track, 2008 single "London Girl" gets a particularly long outro and with it, a huge response from the crowd.
You may be wondering what kind of audience a festive themed tent attracts, and it’s a varied one. Fans of Ghostpoet, Daddy G and the Invisible are apparent though other people are clearly drawn by the mirrored Spiegeltent, and the promise of alcohol and fairly lights in the run up to Christmas. And it’s charming, with everyone cheerful and jolly; the Christmas theme works albeit being a little cheesy and expensive.
Headlining the event is Ghostpoet, with a quirky vocal talent that's earned him numerous Mercury Prize nominations. Having released his third album Shedding Skin last year, he's renowned for sultry lyrics and rich sounds wrapping by his poetic and reflective thought. He opens with compelling track, "Off Peak Dreams" from his latest album, showcasing his captivating vocal. As a lyricist and musician, his vocal portrays anxiousness, anger and a twitchiness with enraged movements on stage. However he combines this emotion with more electronic sounds and a heavier focus on guitar, enlightening the tone. Encouraging dancing with the crowd, Ghostpoet aka Obaro Ejimiwe brings in unbeknownst crowd members from the edges of the Spiegeltent into the dance floor, running around the venue. Rounding off his set with "Liiines", his last performance of the year ends on a high.
Now much later than a typical gig night, the Spiegeltent's late licence turns the venue into more of a club. Massive Attack's Daddy G takes the stage with a DJ set chocked full of reggae, hip hop and old disco. Protoje followed by Snoop Dog to Marvin Gaye, Daddy G's DJ set is the best I’ve been to in a long time. He slowly takes the evening from Ghostpoet's soulful captivation to disco with fluidity. Taking a moment to slip away from the decks, he unnoticedly steps to the back of the tent to check the sound and perhaps marvel at the small crowd where only a few months ago he faced over 20,000 at his festival, Massive Attack on the Downs.
It’s a work night and past bedtime so we call it a night before Queen Bee but it was certainly a fun festive evening. What a way to bring in Christmas with a huge tent and good music. Maybe next year it can be on a weekend and with the publicity that the acts deserve. But for now, happy holidays everyone!