On Saturday 17th February the Wedgewood Rooms was plunged into crimson and filled with heart-shaped balloons: it was the sixth annual St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.
The event started in 2013 as a little show of cover bands to raise money for charity. Usually held at the smaller adjacent venue, the Edge of the Wedge, where it sold out quickly last year, 2018 saw the gig get an upgrade. It was a delightfully cheesy mix of actual bands, debuts and friends who put songs together for fun. The rules are simple: the bands can cover any song as long as it’s related to love, heartbreak or relationships. With their 15 minute slot, some went for a full cover tribute sets, whereas others preferred a selection of songs from different artists.
The evening, hosted by a charismatic Elvis, began with the duo Aztec Waistcoat. At the keyboard—and rigorously wearing an Aztec waistcoat, of course—was Matthew Tiller, co-organiser of the event and member of the Battery Hens, last band to play. Three girls with a ukulele each performed for the first time as Halliwell, ranging from All Saints’ songs to ‘Sk8er Boy’.
Then Fainites, three chaps in tie and shirt, rocked an electric version of Roxette’s ‘It Must have Been Love’, before leaving the stage to Two Cool Lads, a duo who got the audience to laugh and sing along. A Valentine’s Day evening wouldn’t have been complete without an ironic poem on modern dating, composed and read out by Matt Chuter, another member of the Battery Hens.
After the poetry break, the band Hooch delighted the audience with covers from Squeeze to Britney Spears’s ‘Toxic’. Then it was Cyprian Sceptre’s folk-punk moment: they went from ‘Jolene’ to ‘Should I Stay Or Should I Go’, staying true to their original style. I mean, it takes guts to play The Clash with a flute and banjo, right?
After some dancers in colourful dresses (the Neptune Girls) joined Jesse Wyldes & the Stallions for the classic ‘Sway’, it was the Battery Hens’ moment: this year they went for a full Prince tribute set. The purple lights that set the mood for ‘Purple Rain’ announced the end of the gig but not the evening; there was still a raffle to go through.
Thanks to that and the tickets, this Valentine’s Day Massacre raised £2058.73 for Youth Music, a charity that invests in music-making projects for children and young people who wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to enjoy it. And this is a heartwarming example of what our talented community of musicians can come up with!