THE HOT SARDINES | London, Barbican

‘We’re gonna bring up Little Nicky to play “a little Goiiischwin”, as we say in New York.’

All of a sudden the Barbican Main Hall is there — not a modern multi-purpose arts space but a 1920s New York speakeasy. Led by the sizzling Miz Elizabeth, The Hot Sardines have the unbelievable knack of transforming rooms into shebeens that throb with irresistible nostalgia.

The band are adept at rule-breaking in just the right measure. Toe-tapping is usually the reserve of rhythmically-enthused audience members. For this band, they put the toe-tapper centre stage in the form of tap dancer Fast Eddy who leads the band for Count Bassie’s ‘Cute’.

As for the audience, they get to break the rules too and in the most Barbican of ways. The impromptu Charleston in the aisles was a sight to behold, perfectly illustrating the happiness and impulses that the band provoke in their audiences.

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