When we moved to Croydon 7 years ago, giving up our London SW15 and SW16 postcodes was a bit of a wrench, but we loved our new house and it seemed that Croydon was ‘on the up’. We were promised that Westfield would re-build the tired Whitgift centre, and that the Festival of Britain era Fairfield Halls would be refurbished to modern standards. The Whitgift/Westfield saga drags on and on – it should have built by now, and the centre of Croydon looks worse than ever as result of many businesses closing in anticipation of the development.
After a closure of 3 years the Fairfield Halls re-opened in September 2019. The venue holds many memories for me. I saw my first ever concert there, aged 11, none other than leather-clad Alvin Stardust! And I took my son to many pantomimes there, oh yes I did. A couple of years ago we attended the St. Etienne Christmas party, enjoyed Trevor and Simon’s warm up act – a throw-back to children’s TV in the 90s , and then we found ourselves chatting to them in foyer later as the excellent after-party got into full swing. It’s that kind of place.
We had our first visit to the upgraded venue in December, taking my 91 year old dad to see Eric and Ernie (yes, I do know that the real ones are dead). The place was buzzing, not least as some of the rooms were being used for works Christmas parties.
I was pleased that I’d taken the option to pre-pay for a meal at the Terrace bistro; as rather bizarrely they turned away walk-ins, even though it was barely a quarter full. This is a pretty space, which promises to be lovely in the warmer months when that terrace can actually be used.
Rather sensibly they keep it to a small menu, and the food was well presented and very nice. My dad loved his steak pie made with local Cronx beer; it was just a shame that there weren’t any local breweries featured on the drinks menu. With the Cronx, Anspach & Hobday, and Signal all brewing in Croydon it’s a bit of an oversight – especially in light of the ‘food-miles’ movement.
We thoroughly enjoyed our trip back in time to 1970s Saturday nights spent in front of the TV as a family. My son, who hadn’t ever seen or heard of the originals, was in stitches at the sheer silliness. The sound was much improved, but rather disappointingly the refurbishment hadn’t extended to replacing the rather worn seating. Hopefully this will happen in the next phase of work.
When I spotted that Lloyd Cole was to play on April 23rd, I rushed to book tickets. In 1984 his break-through album Rattlesnakes was one of my favourites, along with other jangly indie rock bands of the 80s such as Aztec Camera, Prefab Sprout and The The. I loved Lloyds’ clever lyrics, basically a series of love songs penned wittily and ironically e.g. “Must you tell me all your secrets when it's hard enough to love you knowing nothing?"
I’m looking forward to hearing the new album Guesswork being performed, and I hope a few classics too. He said, “When I was making the record I felt like I was stretching myself artistically, perhaps even to breaking point, and Chris just laughed. ‘No-one else could have made this record,’ he said, ‘It’s soaked in Lloyd-ness’ You realise over time that however much you second-guess yourself or try and pull yourself in whatever direction, it’s still you. If you have a voice, you can’t un-voice yourself.”
It’s happening in The Phoenix Concert Hall, which is a mini Royal Festival Hall (both venues shared the same acoustic consultant, Hope Bagenal), so the sound quality is sure to be brilliant.
Grab your tickets here: https://www.bhlivetickets.co.uk/fairfieldhalls/online/mapSelect.asp
And don’t forget to book your meal at the Terrace Bistro before you check out.
Park Lane, Croydon CR9 1DG
020 3292 0001
020 3292 0002 - Ticket line