Chiqas, at the Pelton Arms (review)

The Pelton Arms is a pub close to our heart.  And not only because a member of my immediate family has lived next to it for over twenty years.

I have written about it before on this blog as on Wednesday evenings it is home to a group of knitters, who used to do guerilla knitting in the area before the local curmudgeonly police put an end to it. Their work was fantastic though (if you have a look at the photos, the area has changed so much in the intervening 4 years).

I also regularly admire its hanging baskets, and back in the summer of 2012 when London really was blooming I included it in my round up of blooming lovely locals.

It is special in other ways too (and not just because it’s a friendly, cosy pub with a nice garden, brilliant Sunday roasts and named by many locals as one of the best in Greenwich). It is also great for live music. Not long ago one complaint from one neighbour may have tipped the pub into your consciousness or your inbox.  A petition was begun on Change by a local musician in an attempt to quash the one complainer who thought the pub was making too much noise and ought to lose its music licence.  Yes it’s a live music venue and pub, which was there first, and by hundreds of years!  Over 9000 people signed the petition and I’m happy to say that since then either the problem pr the man has gone away. Either way, we visited the Pelton Arms last Sunday evening for some live music.

The live music in question was a new band called Chiqas, an all-female group formed in 2015 with weddings and corporate parties in mind, but currently playing all sorts of gigs in establishments around town. The band has 10 members, all classically trained, 8 of whom play strings, plus the vocalist and drummer. Don’t panic: if you like the idea of them but don’t have room for all 10 people on your stage, you can hire just a duo, a quartet, or whatever you prefer. On Sunday at the Pelton we got a lovely sextet – 4 srings, drummer and fantastic singer Laura Prescott. Chiqas will play what you ask for – classical, pop – all arranged specially by and for them.

You might wonder why I am waxing on about them so much.  Founder member Clodagh Kennedy is my son’s violin teacher. So yay! of course we support her. But now that you have my full disclaimer, Chiqas really were fab. They were excellent fun (you can sing along yourself to all the songs) but the arrangements are different enough to really work well with the strings. It’s just great to hear people play who really know how to play.

With it being the Sunday evening before going back to school after Easter hols, and since the children were with us to see their teacher playing, we only stayed for the first set. From the opener of Toxic, it was enough to give an idea of how good this group was. Most of the covers were of female vocalists – Britney, Katy Perry, Jessie J – but a couple of my favourites were Cee Lo Green’s Forget You and Bruno Mars’ Treasure, and we also had a rendition of Billie Jean. We all got a bit excited when the singer dedicated the next song to the kids – in fact it was a double whammy of Valerie (channelling more Amy than the Zutons) and Roar.  The first set ended on one of my favourites, American Boy by Estelle, and we dragged ourselves away despite wanting to stay.

I would highly recommend Chiqas if you are looking to book an interesting new group for a venue or a special occasion. The all-female factor is great too. Each member of the group is multi-talented and with a lot of experience (as you can tell from the biogs on their website) and if you check out the Facebook page you will find videos of rehearsals and jams where you will find out just how good they are at improvising and playing different instruments and all those sort of musical gifts I can only dream of.  Young women with bright futures ahead!  It’s lovely to see.

To find out more about Chiqas, see their website, ‘like’ their Facebook page here, or follow them on Twitter here.

The Pelton Arms website is here. Keep an eye on the music listings as it is a great place to see a live band. Or eat a roast dinner (apparently their roast potatoes are superb). Or pick up some knitting tips.  Geoff Keen and his team will give you a very warm welcome.

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