The Puppini Sisters and Sugar Foot Stomp– Under the Stars Festival, East Ham, London Thursday 3rd September 2009.
First , a thank you. If I could find out who the agent is for Newham festivals , I would thank them for a bit of inspired booking. The Under the Stars festival is small local borough festival that for the last few years, seems to punch well above its weight. It is rare that well known or high calibre artists are seen in this unfashionable part of London, so it was This is also my local festival so when I saw that The Puppini Sisters were headliners for the normally sparsely attended first day I was pleasantly surprised. The theme for this Thursday was the wartime period as it was the 70th anniversary of the start of the second world.
The excellent swing band Sugar Foot Stomp had warmed up the few hundred or so people attending, no mean feat given the cold autumnal night and the chilly westerly wind. But they had many local couples of all ages up and jiving and jitterbugging or least attempting it to with such great tempo bop along tunes as “She’s Funny Like That and the very amusing and original “Last Call for Alcohol”. It was so cold that a hot mug of tea was more appropriate.
The Puppini’s gave a different vibe to evening. This was not your classic swing era and although some of that genre was certainly thrown into the mix. This was nonetheless a highly entertaining mix of contemporary songs reformulated into a 1940’s style and with elements of cabaret thrown in. Most people chose to stand and listen to a highly instead of dance but a few die hards moved to whatever rhythm came along. And the relatively spartan crowd were not disappointed. The 3 Puppini’s regaled us with close harmony songs that included the popular 1950’s Mr. Sandman, a bouncy up-tempo version of Blondie’s “Heart of Glass” and a song I never thought could be covered in a 1940’s style -“Wuthering Heights”. Songs came from both of their 2 current album to date : the 2006 debut album “Betcha , Bottom Dollar” and the more recent quirkily-named “The Rise of Ruby”. The concert continued on a pace with a ebullient version of the swing classic – “It Don’t Mean A Thing if It Ain’t That Swing”. The Puppini’s were polite, cheeky and charming as they in engaged in chat with the meager-sized audience which resulted at one point in engaging in playful banter with a typical middle-aged east Londoner., where they feigned heart-break that the man had broken off their ‘relationship’ . This was the pre-cursor to a belting and amusing rendition of “I Will Survive, that got roundly applauded but that sounded equally camp whether sung in a 1940s style or disco. My personal favourite , though, was undoubtedly , Beyonce’s “Crazy In Love”. As this festival was designed to commorate the start of the war, it was appropriate The Puppini’s put in a magnificent lively finish to a World War II classic – The Boogie Woogie Bugle Bay”, originally made famous by the Andrew Sisters and didn’t they just nail it.
This concert from very theatrically dressed Kate Mullins, Marcella Puppini, and Stephanie O’Brien may have been short but it was very sweet. At the end of it all, they thanked the remaining audience and politely told everyone to go home into warm. It was really a pleasure for me to see such high quality artists who care about their audience and their repetoire.
There were entrance gates and security did a bag search. Other than that security personnel very pleasant as you would expect for the type of crowd.
My local suburban park. Professionally laid with adequate space, beer tents and catering for a small local festival. Best thing for me. 500 yards to get home.