Blink and you miss it, for any first timer heading to Tooting’s Tram & Social, but behind a black gate and into a hidden passageway it is there. A huge room with booths and the stage faces you as soon as you walk through the door; it seemed like a grand affair decked with a huge glitter ball and a few stars – whether it is always like this or just for Christmas, I am unsure.
With a slight diversion I missed half of the first support of Katie Malco, but with just her guitar, as I walked in it seemed the audience took to her. She made small talk, which eased her into each number and we were even given a Christmas number of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, as to be fair, tonight was advertised as a ‘festive special!’
Second support was another soloist by the name of The Lion And The Wolf, or Tom. I am unsure if the beard gives him his namesake or the way in which he performs is to capture his audience with his ‘crushing melancholy’ sounds as described on a social media page. TLATW definitely has a way to make loss sound beautiful and the intensity of his performance in body language makes sure he has caught his prey.
The final support comes from Oh Sister who brings the show up a notch with four members on stage and with an electronic mix to their folky sounds. They opened a bit heavy on the electric guitar but being in the audience and seeing how tight the band were and their blended harmonies, this was instantly forgotten. Lead vocalist, Sarah, takes to talking to the crowd and was especially appreciative of the pinball machines going off in the background. With these little ‘glitches’ to their set, Oh Sister definitely held their own and also give the second and last festive number of the night with White Christmas.
Headliner, Lyla Foy, sticks with the concept of having a full band and opened with Beginning It All Again, a song that when I first heard it, got me excited to make this trip down from the North (that and knowing Oh Sister were on the bill too – two birds, one stone). Lyla gave a captivating performance. Petite and smiley and swaying from side to side as she played, the merry crowd were quite an excited bunch. Her band provided the perfect backing vocals and gave off just as much energy as their leading lady. We were given a great mix of old tunes along with material from her latest release UMi. Although Lyla had an extra half hour than her support acts, it seemed it was all over too soon. The crowd wanted more but with a curfew of opening the doors to those that came to be social outside of the gig hours, we just had to make do and saviour an amazing night given to us by all four acts that came to witness some fine music, whilst also giving to the charity, Centrepoint.