Post-Christmas blues? They’ve got it covered at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea

The Battery Hens at a previous Christmas Covers Party at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea.
The Battery Hens at a previous Christmas Covers Party at The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea.

Once you’ve stuffed your face with more turkey than is sane, opened all your pressies, watched a film or two, and are looking for a way to escape the relatives, help is at hand.

The day after Boxing Day, the ninth Annual Christmas Covers Party will be taking place, where a host of local acts will pay loving tribute to/murder some of their favourite songs.

The evening is crammed with bands, each covering a set of three classic hit songs of their choice, or 15 minutes on a theme. Costumes, props, singalongs and stage theatrics are all heartily encouraged. Where else could you find a bunch of punks recreating Pink Floyd’s famously OTT live show for The Wall, in under quarter an hour, as Battery Hens once did?

And best of all, all money raised from the night goes to Rowans Hospice.

This year’s lineup features bands spanning a range of genres, ages and tastes, including Glorious Bulletholes, Flybums, Hooch, Battery Hens, The SLM, Dad Hair and Cyprian Sceptre collaborating with Southsea's premier ukulele girl band, Halliwell. With more acts and maybe a surprise or two to be announced.

The event is topped off with the popular MegaRaffle, with prizes donated from more than 30 companies, shops, artists, restaurants and musicians, including My Dog Sighs, Garbos Hair, Dave Thompson Art, Dials Festival, Icebreaker festival and Staggeringly Good Brewery.

Co-founder Rusty Sheriff admits he pinched the idea from a similar event when he was at university in Nottingham.

‘I knew it would translate to the Southsea scene, because there are bands here willing to do covers, but also do it in a tongue-in-cheek style where the shambolic efforts have just as much merit as the really polished ones - and we cover both ends of that spectrum. It makes it a little more lighthearted but still with some sort of musical integrity.’

The only other rule is that bands can’t play a song that’s been done in previous years – and they don’t have to be Christmas songs.

‘That’s probably the hardest part. When the bands submit their suggestions I have to check to see if it’s been done before. For example, Cyprian Sceptre wanted to do Fairytale of New York, and that would have been amazing for them - but it’s been done before so unfortunately they’ve had to choose again.

‘I always suggest that the bands not make the songs too esoteric – try to keep to the party bangers, songs that everyone will know, so even if you make a mess of it, it’s still really good fun.’

Those who have been before will recognise a few names on the bill, but it’s important to Rusty to make sure there’s plenty of variety on the night.

‘We’ve got a few regulars, and four or five we know will always want to do it, but each year there’s some who can’t make it because they’re going away or whatever, and then there’s also younger bands who are coming through – like Cyprian Sceptre.

‘It’s nice. It’s an interesting mixture when I’m listening to all the bands who want to take part - it’s important to keep the quality and the humour on point.’

But aside from the fun, it’s knowing where the money goes that spurs them on each year.

‘The day after the show is one of my favourite things of the year,’ adds Rusty. ‘Taking the drive up from Purbrook to Southsea with an envelope full of cash and handing it over. There’s no better feeling – it makes me feel like a nice human again and like I’m doing something worthwhile from this silly idea that started nine years ago.

‘I’m really proud of it, and I know my wife, Emma, who organises the raffle, is too. Some people will come just for the raffle now and not the music!’

Tickets are £5 in advance, doors open 6.30pm.


The Wedgewood Rooms, Southsea

Thursday, December 27