James Langton and His Solid Senders

Swing dancers took over The Royal Festival Hall on Monday 28 August for a great swing orchestra performance.


The entire world and their partner went to The Royal Festival Hall at lunchtime on Monday 28 August 2000 for the return of James Langton and His Solid Senders to the concert stage. The usual collection of social dancers was swelled by the sore feet and aching limbs of many fresh - and not-so-fresh - from The Swing Jam.

This ranked as one of the best ever concerts at the venue, recalling the great New Year's Eve events with Vile Bodies in bygone years. Fortunately, there was no exhibition to prevent the ballroom floor being used for its intended purpose, which was just as well since the upper part of the venue was almost entirely covered with tables and chairs.

James Langton at RFH
James Langton leads the reeds at the RFH

Despite a request to turn the orchestra to face the dance floor for the second set, the band looked forward as they continued to turn out a selection of hits from the thirties and forties. Singer Louise Cookman added her smooth tones to The Devil and The Deep Blue Sea and Watch The Birdie amongst others, while the instrumentals like One O'clock Jump and a too-many-beats-per-minute Sing Sing Sing kept the floor filled.

Watch The Birdie
Watch The Birdie: "And Hold It!"

The response to the performance was so enthusiastic that Langton was persuaded/allowed to carry on well past the two o'clock curfew. This is imposed to prevent the sound from interfering with theatrical events elsewhere in The RFH. By this time, band members were turning around to wave and acknowledge the applause of the dancers after each number. The show-stopping finale came around 2.15pm, when It Ain't What'cha Do prompted a spontaneous mass Shim Sham, complete with additional chorus vocals from the dancers. The conclusion was greeted with cheers and an outburst of Wayne's World-style "We're not worthy" bowing and waving.

A post-gig conversation with James Langton revealed that the upcoming date at The 100 Club on Tuesday 19 September may be their last for a while. "At the moment, we've got a private party booked in December, and that's about it" said James, adding cryptically "But we are in negotations to play the Hellzapoppin' Anniversary Party on November 4 at Cecil Sharp House". Let's hope Tim Jumpin' Jive can raise the ante to get this superb orchestra back in a dance hall.

Ron and Cookie
Ron Leslie and Angela Andrew swing out


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