Bootleg and Fat 45 play at The Blind Tiger in Brighton 11/11/11

By Harriet Thacker

People playing Monopoly is not what you expect to see when you walk into the pub on a Friday night.


Yet here they were in one of the trendiest new venues in Brighton, The Blind Tiger, flourishing money and property cards around a rather battered and retro-looking board. But retro is of course very, very cool and retro was the order of the Bootleg evening with Fat 45, a 40s and 50s inspired jump jive band .
Having been tipped off that it was free entry before 9pm we arrived early – and were still asked to pay £1. Not free, but not bad and we could already hear some promising music. Formerly known as Hector’s House, The Blind Tiger has recently been refurbished and was much more spacious with the stage over to the right. Already crowded with saxophones, trumpets and a massive cello, it promised a good night.
Getting everything kicked off was Brighton based DJ Arthur Shillin’ and friends. His were the alluring sounds that we had heard from outside and he and his friends were a definite treat. Describing his sound as “swing for the 21st century” Arthur Shillin’ mixed The Jungle Book’s I Wan’na Be Like You (The Monkey Song) with some fresh , tasty beats and really did give the old classics a new spin. They had no problem encouraging people onto the dance floor and before long full swing dancing had broken out.
This was the Bootleg crew. Girls clad in vintage dresses with peek-a-boo fringes or Bettie Page rockabilly hairstyles, were being expertly spun across the floor by men in zoot suits, boaters, braces and spats. This was not something the evening had laid on – this was just some of the audience. They parted briefly for three tap dancers in spangled hot pants with classic 40s’ waves in their hair, who performed a number, complementing the atmosphere. Sprinkled in among them were some of the Occupy protestors from across the road .
Fat 45 came on stage just after 11pm . Usually an 11- piece band their numbers were slightly depleted with only 7, but it made no difference to the quality of the performance. Having played Glastonbury consecutively since 2009, expectations of Fat 45 were high. Singer Dale De Ville didn’t disappoint and enraptured the audience with his stage presence and soulful vocals. Mike Kelly, a stand in for the usual drummer, fit into the sound perfectly and some smooth saxophone solos and vocals from Lady Smorl rounded everything off nicely. Bringing a heady mix of jump jive, rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll they appealed to everyone. Finishing with Drink Wine Fat 45 made the night and left all of us wanting more.
The whole evening takes you back in time and makes you really appreciate the brilliance of the music and its liberating effects. The performers’ and audience’s enthusiasm makes you want to learn swing dancing, don the retro outfits and really get stuck into the whole Bootleg movement. A real testament to the night came as we left and noticed the Monopoly game had been long since abandoned, in favour of jumping and jiving.

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