Gary Horsman on Music and Cabaret

Chats Palace has been a hub of entertainment since opening in 1976, becoming a well-known home of music; theatre; cabaret; urban music & dance; visual arts; youth, community and disability arts.

Having emerged as a direct response to the appetite of its local community, Chats Palace soon established its appeal to diverse audiences; ska gigs sitting alongside music-hall; punk alongside jazz; disability arts events alongside ‘New Variety’ & comedy nights.

Innovative theatre, and the legendary 70s/early 80s Christmas productions were always a central platform of the venue’s programming.

The early days saw punk, ‘new wave’ and jazz establishing Chats reputation, with the likes of The Mekons, The Au Pairs, & The Leyton Buzzards appearing on the same posters as Sunday lunchtime sessions featuring jazz artists Derek Bailey, John Stephens & Elton Dean.

The 80s new jazz scene bringing the likes of Alan Weeks & Clifford Jarvis. Reggae & ska acts included Black Slate, Tippa Irie, The Deltones, and Amazulu. Chats has hosted the (original derivation) RnB of Howling Wilf & Jon Cleary; the folk legends Julie Felix & June Tabor.

Meanwhile, over the first two decades, Chats Palace Music Hall saw appearances by Clive Dunn, Maxine Daniels, and many other faces from TV.

The 1980’s also saw Chats being at the heart of the emerging disability arts scene, with some of the most significant pioneer performers appearing: Heart & Soul, David Rappaport & Mat Frazer.

Poets & comedians have been ever-present, such as Benjamin Zephaniah, John Hegley and Attila The Stockbroker; Harry Enfield, Jenny Lecoat & Alexei Sayle.

The booming black comedy scene of the 90s brought the likes of Gina Yashere, Curtis Walker and Rudy Lickwood; Urban artists include Asian Dub Foundation, Fundamental, Boy Blue and Omar.

Chart-topping artists who have appeared include The XX, Rudimental, Plan B, Leona Lewis, The Flying Pickets, Alison Moyet, Adamski, Chumbawumba & Bronski Beat. Other artists, such as Robert Wyatt, recorded material in the venue.

Chats Palace has been many things to many people and has witnessed some great names and genres over the years. We’ve drawn up a list of some of the most illustrious – and wonder how many of them you may have seen there yourselves! Please let us know who we have overlooked?