Um… Who’s Arthur?
Good question, and one I am now fully informed about, and ready to explain. The man in question is Arthur Guinness. Yes, that Guinness. He’s the man who started it all off, who founded the Guinness business and who had the foresight to sign a 9,000 year lease in 1759 on what is still the Guinness Factory in Dublin today.
Arthur’s Day, however, is new. It was created by Guinness & Co in 2009 in order to preserve the legacy of Arthur Guinness, apparently – and they throw £5 million at it every year, for music events held all over the world. It shouldn’t be a surprise, then, that the official parties organised for Arthur’s Day tend to have some really great names, and this year, the first year in which an Arthur’s Day party was held in London, was really good.
It kicked off with a huge light show on the side of Senate House – that vast, white Art Deco University building up in Bloomsbury – the blank canvas effect of which is perfect for illumination. The sound aspect to the light show was interesting too, with individual headphones blaring out the music to spare the ears of the poor academics residing nearby.
Afterwards, the crowds swarmed into the building to receive tonnes of Guinness and some (I’m assuming) Guinness stew/soup concoction while the stage was set for the first of the acts to come on: V V Brown. And a very good job she did, too, warming up the crowd nicely. Ditto the next act, British rapper Wretch 32, who gave it bags of energy and, by the way, had a kickass drummer who surely should have collapsed with exhaustion. He didn’t, you’ll be reassured to know.
Razorlight were up next. They had performed on the very first Arthur’s Day celebrations in Dublin, 2009, returning to the London party three years later to play their most popular tunes and doing a brilliant job. But everyone was waiting for Tom Jones, capping the night off with a performance that did not disappoint. He and his musicians were fantastic, and yes indeed, there was underwear thrown at the stage.
It was a bizarre mixture of music – the four very different styles naturally attracting very different fans. It’s always odd to see the fans from Tom Jones’s youthful fame at the front of the crowd waiting for their idol, while a London rapper bounces about the stage doing all the crotch-grabbing. Still, everyone was very much in the spirit and enjoying all the sets, so perhaps that’s the main thing.
All in all, London’s first Arthur’s Day was great fun – and as an excuse to have a festival full of beer, I can think of worse reasons than in celebration of one of the world’s most famous brewers.
Arthur’s Day took place on Thursday 27 September at:
For videos of the performances of Arthur’s Day 2012 and to see what Senate House was like all lit up, check out their YouTube channel.