As summer rolls out and the sharp winds of winter snap, the longing for festivals and dancing all night long to your favourite bands is ever keen. One way to stave off those winter blues was a bout at this years XFM Winter Wonderland. The London gig was a showcase of this years freshest talent and old favourites playing to a packed out and festively happy crowd of music fans.
An unfortunate bout of illness saw one of the most adored bands of the past twelve months, The Horrors, pull out only hours before the doors at Brixton Academy opened, however this left the remaining five bands more time to play. Starting the evening on an early roll Band Of Skulls broke the nights trend of boys in bands with bassist and vocalist Emma Richardson setting it to the crowd with their garage rock sound.
Pulling back to a sweeter but albeit more festive sound Ben Howard had Brixton Academy captivated with an acoustic set. Playing only two tracks, a short but intensely endearing set saw a rowdy crowd hushed for ‘Old Pine’ and ‘The Fear’.
It was not until the kings of indie-rock The Maccabees took to the stage that XFM Winter Wonderland really took to its stride. A band who have gone from strength to strength over the last few years, 2011 has been worse off for the bands absence while writing new material. With a third of their set dedicated to new material, latest single Pelican marked a triumphant return for The Maccabees while Lego and Precious Time could be heard shouted back to the band from every corner of Brixton Academy. Getting into the Christmas swing a surprise Home Alone Christmas medley saw the crowd enjoying a very merry night out.
A theme that continued when James Dean Bradfield of The Manic Street Preachers took to the stage to accept the XFM Inspiration Award or the “award for old people” as he named it, before playing a cover of Wham’s Last Christmas. Another unfairly short set, the Manic’s frontman continued to play favourites Your Love Alone Is Not Enough and Design For Life.
While many were dubious of The Kaiser Chiefs headlining such an event, by the time the band took to the stage the majority of Brixton Academy were merry enough to sing and dance along to the last of the nights entertainment, in true festival style. Still with only a thirteen song set, although some will think that quite enough, the band blasted out crowd-pleasers such as Everyday I Love You Less and Less, Ruby and I Predict a Riot to a massive response.
A massively enjoyable night despite band illness and pull outs at the last moment letting down XFM Winter Wonderland again this year. A feeling that all the bands should have longer on stage was washed under the floorboards by the high quality of the sets that were played, leaving those attending with strong Christmas cheer.
words: Robyn Lynch