Felix Hagan & The Family - Review
I arrive at the venue – a pub basement in London – and three worries hit. Firstly: will this small room really fit over 200 people? Second: that stage is on the small side, will the whole of the seven-person rock group Felix Hagan & The Family get a place on it? Or will one or two members be relegated to the floor? And finally: everyone here seems to be wearing glitter, did I miss the memo? (The answer to all is yes)
No time to think too much on those, as just after 8pm, the currently Family-less Felix Hagan takes to the stage with a guitar and warms up the crowd with ‘Your Fanatic’. As he plays this first set – and teases that the final song he’ll play is from “the best movie of all time,” – we learn a bit more about the man himself. Primarily that he’s quite funny. It’s always a nice surprise to learn someone whose music you like is not only charismatic and charming, but also knows how to crack a joke. Although the strangest gag is when he says that his song ‘Eddie Baby’ isn’t about him wanting to shag the titular man – a hard to believe statement on a song with the choral line “I beg and plead you please succumb to my charms.”
The lucky assembly is also given a preview of two songs from upcoming musical written by Hagan, Operation Mincemeat, based on a real secret mission that happened during World War 2. One, ‘Born to Lead,’ is about one white man (Hagan) teaching another (David Cumming) about how they’re just better than everyone else (according to themselves), while the other is about Natasha Hodgson (one of the ‘& The Family’) still having fun while a war is going on.
We reach the end of this first set and Felix reveals his pick of “best movie of all time.” It’s Mamma Mia: Here We Go Again, and he launches into ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen,’ which is of course a joyful sing-along by the time it finishes.
Next Alex James Ellison, the support act, performs. Among others, he sings a fun song about chocolate bars and romance, as well as a song about dreaming about living in London vs what its really like. Both are amusing and well received by the crowd. The set starts acoustic, but halfway through disaster strikes and one of Alex’s guitar strings breaks, it could have all ended there, but Ellison continues anyway, moving to the piano, which it turns out he’s even better at!
After the Ellison’s set ends it’s time for what was advertised as “the LOUD bit” and the full Felix Hagan & The Family appear and all (somehow) manage to fit on the stage. Each is adorned in copious amounts of glitter and Felix is wearing what he assures us is not a feather boa and is in fact a fake-fur scarf from New Look (phew, glad we sorted that one out). What follows is an incredible performance that enthrals everyone present. We’re pumping our fists into the air and screaming along to ‘Kiss the Misfits’ but quiet and still for the slower and more solemn ‘Burn Down This City.’ The band plays two of my favourites: ‘Woah There Kimmy’ (a tune I always pitch to mates as being ‘Shut Up and Dance With Me’ but if the guy really wasn’t into it) and ‘Get Well City,’ a surprisingly upbeat song about going to rehab. I had started the evening standing stiffly at the side of the room, but the infectious energy of their performance meant that by the end I’m stood in the crowd, shouting the words with the rest of the room.
What strikes me most is not just how much myself and the rest of the audience are enjoying the show, but how much fun the band seem to be having themselves. They sweat off a lot of their glitter as the night goes on and are sometimes a bit out of breath after a number, because they’re really giving it their all, and its clear how comfortable they are performing together, which only serves to make the whole thing more exciting.
Once again, they end on a crowd-pleasing cover as the entire room joins together for a raucous rendition of ‘Don’t Stop Me Now.’
And it’s over. After the crowd disperses and I awkwardly wander over to ask for a photo with Felix (and surely embarrass myself in the process), you can taste the sweat – and see it on the walls. It was a brilliant night, and I can’t help but wish I could do it all again. Fortunately, the band goes on tour soon, so I might get the chance.