Tag Archives: cabaret

2019 ➤ This would have been Steve Strange’s 60th birthday

1978, when Steve Strange teamed up with Rusty Egan (Photo © Fin Costello/Redferns)

➢ Remember Steve through the tributes paid
after his death in 2015 by 30 original Blitz Kids
here at Shapers of the 80s

Evening Standard, On The Line, Steve Strange, Evening Standard

First published in the Evening Standard, Jan 24, 1980

➢ Our first report on Steve Strange, 1980. . . He was eager to announce a Thursday cabaret night at the Blitz, showcasing a new band with the weird name of “Spandau Ballet”

Steve Strange, New Romantics, Blitz Kids, nightclubbing, London

First published in the Evening Standard, Oct 16, 1980

➢ By the autumn of 1980 there was a whole new underground scene to report. . . In one week, a dozen prodigies were setting the town ablaze, none of them over 22


➤ Rik Mayall, fireball of comic energy, is dead

stand-up,London, Comic Strip, Young Ones ,Rik Mayall, review, 1980, Over 21, Ade Edmondson ,alternative comedy,Twentieth Century Coyote,Cabaret, Raymond’s  Revue Bar,

Angry Feminist Poet: Rik Mayall at Soho’s Comic Strip, Nov 1980. Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s

❚ THE 56-YEAR-OLD STAR of The Comic Strip, The Young Ones and The New Statesman has died suddenly at his home in London. Long before his TV stardom, I met Rik Mayall in November 1980 in pursuit of the first magazine feature about the achingly funny team putting the Comic Strip’s new wave of “alternative comedy” on the map. Here is that first feature about them, with my own pictures:

➢ 1980 – At the Comic Strip, ‘alternative cabaret’ throws up the next generation of household names – here at Shapersofthe80s

Comic Strip, 1980, Rik Mayall, Ade Edmondson, Alexei Sayle, alternative comedy

First published in Over21, January 1981

“Awful news about Rik Mayall – a fireball of creative comic energy and inspiration. Such brilliant raw talent” – Rory Bremner

“Rik Mayall was just pure wiry, energetic, unpredictable humour poured into the shape of a human. You couldn’t not watch him” – Charlie Brooker

➢ Ade Edmondson said: “There were times when Rik and I were writing together when we almost died laughing … They were some of the most carefree stupid days I ever had, and I feel privileged to have shared them with him” – Independent

stand-up,London, Comic Strip, Young Ones ,Rik Mayall, review, 1980, Over 21, Ade Edmondson ,alternative comedy,Twentieth Century Coyote,Cabaret, Raymond’s  Revue Bar, Alexei Sayle

Twentieth Century Coyote, 1980: Rik Mayall’s coruscating double act with Ade Edmondson, seen backstage at Soho’s Comic Strip club, within Raymond’s Revue Bar. Photographed by © Shapersofthe80s

➢ Rik Mayall may have died after fit in wake of bike accident – Telegraph

➢ Mark Lawson pays tribute to a dangerously funny man … “The savage charisma that Mayall projected in his TV comedy roles led the director Richard Eyre to cast him, in 1985, in a National Theatre production of Gogol’s political satire The Government Inspector”

➢ Rik Mayall: tributes from comedians, fans and celebrities – Telegraph


➤ Double whammy for cabaret comeback Eve

Eve Ferret ,David Stewart, Stray,  London Short Film Festival , ICA

Eve Ferret in David Stewart’s film, Stray, which is in the London Short Film Festival January 10-19, at the ICA. The LSFF is an annual event that showcases some of the best short-film making talent in the UK

❚ TODAY’S HOT NEWS from cabaret artiste, Eve Ferret:

I hate crowing but I want to share with you that we have got into the London Short Film Festival with a film called Stray which was my concept and art direction alongside Mark Summerfield… Blah Blah and I appear alongside Dudley Sutton, Jenny Runacre. The director is the wonderful David Stewart. It is being shown on January 12 under Left Field And Luscious at the ICA of all places. You can see a trailer for it here.

Plus I just got Best Comeback The Stage (as you know, I hadn’t performed for over 15 years) which I think is blinkin hilarious as it makes me sound like return of the 50ft woman and my Fabaret is back on again on Sundays January 12 and 19 at the fabulous Crazy Coqs in London – tickets via Brasserie Zedel or 0207 734 4888. “Oh the ferret is a crowing.” I’m gonna be whacked with a wet fish for doing so but there you go. Love Eve xx

Eve Ferret Fabaret

Former Blitz Kid Eve Ferret in her recent Fabaret in London

➢ More about Eve at the Blitz club

litz club cabaret , Biddie & Eve, James Biddlecombe ,Eve Ferret, Blitz Club

Blitz club cabaret duo James (Biddie) Biddlecombe and Eve Ferret snapped in 1977 by artist Richard Walker


➤ Synthpop cabaret from a right romantic pair of poseurs

 Terrible Splendour, synthpop,

A Terrible Splendour: the eternal themes of rebellion and shame

➢ If you want to support fresh electropop talent here are A Terrible Splendour – two Londoners called Martin Block and MM Lyle, whose heroes include Duran Duran, Ronny, Japan and Alphaville and they sound a lot like many of them. They say:

A Terrible Splendour are a London-based duo who weave tales of blackmail and despair, of cruelty and of heartbreak. Drawing from the Silver Screen, Romanticism and the New Wave, their sound is a darkly luxurious synthesised pop, fractured through the lens of a cursed Berlin.

Terrible Splendour, synthpop,PoseursTheir live shows are a theatre of love and death, with performances drawing on Weimar-era cabaret. The recent self-made video for their track Victimless Crime displays an aesthetic that references German Impressionist cinema and gothic storytelling.

The band’s debut album Poseurs, is released on the French electronic label Desire, to include a limited edition of 300 copies on white vinyl. It features 11 tracks ranging in style from dissolute disco to sombre cabaret musings. Resolutely modern synth sounds, in turn lush and vicious, combine with lyrics addressing the eternal themes of rebellion, shame and the vagaries of outrage. Plus sparkling new mixes by producer James Aparicio (These New Puritans, Spiritualized).

Er, thassabout it.


2011 ➤ The unknown Mr Big behind London’s landmark nightspot makes his return to the Blitz

Return to the Blitz, Eve Ferret, Mike Brown, Blitz club, Steve Strange

Reunited last night after 30 years: the reclusive founder of the Blitz wine bar, Mike Brown, and the cabaret singer Eve Ferret who first tasted stardom there. (Photograph © by Shapersofthe80s)

❚ BIGGEST SURPRISE AT LAST NIGHT’S Return to The Blitz party, thrown by Steve Strange, Rusty Egan and Rose Turner, was the arrival from Spain of the brains behind the original bar that became the crucible for New Romantic nightlife back in 1979. International man of mystery Mike Brown has always been described by those who worked for him in the late 70s as very private, and indeed he must be the only person among us to generate nil Google results. Nobody was more thrilled to see him for the first time in 30 years than actress and singer Eve Ferret, who made good in cabaret at the Blitz. It was almost a This Is Your Life moment as the pair lingered fondly in each other’s arms.

Biddie & Eve, James Biddlecombe, Blitz club

One-man cabaret: Biddie on-table at the Blitz wine bar in 1977

It was Brown who had the shrewd idea of buying the four-storey Victorian house at No 4 Great Queen Street in 1976 and opening a wine bar there. “I felt like a change from the recruitment business which I was running,” he said last night. “And I’d been watching a World War Two movie about Churchill which gave me the idea for a Blitz theme.

“I remember it was black and white and showed Londoners down in the Underground shelters whilst the bombs were dropping. More than the actual horror of the damage that was being inflicted, it was the way Londoners banded together that lingers. I remember thinking that I lived on the fourth floor of an old building divided into six flats yet I didn’t know any of the occupants.”

Mike ran his main business in nearby Lincoln’s Inn Fields, and his soft spot for nostalgia was well known to the Blitz staff — barmaid Sally Marks says she imagined he would have been a fighter pilot in another life. Hence the Blitz’s utilitarian wartime decor: bare floorboards, green and cream paintwork, red-gingham tablecloths, hanging enamel lampshades, which were never dusted. Famously the walls were lined with portraits of Churchill and WW2 posters in the declamatory graphics of the period: “Careless talk costs lives” and so on.

Blitz club, Mick Hurd, Richard Jones, Eve Ferret, Brendan Connolly , Sally Marks

Dressing up for the Blitz wine bar’s Come as your Wildest Dream party, 1977: Mick Hurd, Richard Jones as Thunderbirds heroes, with Eve Ferret… and, right, manager Brendan Connolly with barmaid Sally Marks. (Polaroids © by Mick Hurd)

Mike said: “I am a great lover of traditional pie-and-mash and decided that the food theme would be along the lines of bangers-and-mash. The menus looked like old wartime ration books and we had our own wine labels made up.”

Despite having the Irish charmer Brendan Connolly as manager, and the dashing Peruvian Mario Testino behind the bar (as well as Sally, Ian Harington, Mike Roskams, Mick Hurd, Roy Brentnall, Paul Frecker and many, many others), the Blitz with its gorblimey menu wasn’t frankly much of a success. As the oil crisis squeezed western economies in the austere 70s, so London nightspots started resorting to cabaret to attract custom. Coinciding with a menu upgrade, the first performers to make their name at the Blitz were the song-and-dance duo Biddie & Eve.

Slim, camp and Bowie-esque James “Biddie” Biddlecombe started at the Blitz singing solo, accompanied by pianist Richard Jones (later an opera director). Along came buxom redheaded Eve Ferret whose laughter could shake a cocktail. Their riotous partnership was inevitable. Biddie recalls: “Initially we would perform in the middle of the floor three nights a week. By 1978 we’d grown so busy they decided to build us a stage.” Sally says that one night when Island Records boss Chris Blackwell turned up with Bob Marley, the godfather of reggae was persuaded to get up and do a number.

Biddie & Eve, Eve Ferret, James Biddlecombe, Blitz club, London, 1970s

The 1978 relaunch, now with a stage: flyer for Biddie & Eve’s regular thrice-weekly cabaret

With Brendan’s encouragement, Biddie-life-and-soul helped establish a reputation for themed costume events with titles such as Come as Your Wildest Dream, or Stars of Film and TV, so the Blitz rapidly attracted, in the language of the time, an “up for it” party crowd, which included the likes of Tim Rice and Janet Street-Porter from the swank media haunt Zanzibar along the street. Then in February 1979, in walked Steve Strange and his competitive brand of teen cabaret on Tuesdays and the rest is New Romantic history.

The Blitz bar closed when Mike sold the building in 1981 “because after five years I’d had enough”, by which time Strange & Egan had upscaled their ambitions to Club For Heroes over on Baker Street. And Mike went back to recruitment. He said: “It is very humbling to know that there is still such interest in the Blitz Kids. They were a great bunch and it was a very exciting time.”

Shirlie Holliman,Eve Ferret,John Keeble, Martin Kemp, Blitz club

Spandau delegation at Return to the Blitz 2011: John Keeble, Martin Kemp and Shirlie Holliman catch up with Eve Ferret, second right. (Photograph © by Shapersofthe80s)

➢ Rusty Egan’s set list for Return To The Blitz
reunion party, 15 Jan 2011