Cherwell

Review: Emmy & Tim @ Scala, London

It was an ambitious move on the part of Emmy the Great and Tim Wheeler to schedule their special London Christmas gig on the same night as The Pogues’ only UK show of 2012. After all, ‘Fairytale of New York’ has been cemented in the country’s musical consciousness as everyone’s favourite Christmas song since before Emmy picked up a guitar. But on the 20th December, 2012 the night before the apocalypse (as Tim repeatedly reminded the audience), one of indie music’s cutest couples managed to capture the Christmas spirit perfectly for everyone who crammed into Scala.

The audience was given a clue as to what the night might bring when Emmy, possibly fearing that her fans might be suffering from boredom, came on stage in between the two support acts to talk about the book series ‘Sweet Valley High’, which is for "teenagers and people with, you know, hearts", in her words. After a brief reading from the book, which is about a girl with an evil twin who is identical apart from "a mole on her left shoulder, ew", Emmy proceeded to list the many and outlandish deaths which occur throughout the series including "Luke, silver bullet". And that wasn’t the end of the out-of-the-ordinary warm-up acts: after the two support bands, Pete the Magician took the stage, performed a few unorthodox card tricks involving a loaf of bread before stripping down to nothing but colourful underpants, a vest, a sweatband and socks, then leaving to rapturous applause.

From then on, it was all Christmas as Emmy & Tim, arriving on stage to an instrumental cover of ‘We’re Walking In the Air’ complete with electric guitars, launched into their re-released Christmas album, ‘This Is Christmas’ with tinsel on their microphones and a light-show of snowflakes playing across the walls. Christmas is a time for otherwise unbearable cheesiness, and they certainly managed that, gazing into each other’s eyes throughout ‘Snowflakes’. But the humour of the night was key, and continued with ‘(Don’t Call Me) Mrs. Christmas’, a lament on behalf of Santa’s wife, a very neglected woman this time of the year ("probably shagging an elf" according to Emmy, which "might not be so bad" according to Tim). Another highlight of the pair’s incredible showmanship came when the lights went down and the surround sound went crazy to introduce ‘Zombie Christmas’; terror reigned as the support acts came on stage in horrifying make-up and staggered into the crowd hunting for brains.

Their Christmas album wasn’t the only source of material though, with Emmy & Tim drawing on classics such as ‘Sleigh Ride’, as well as The Ramones’ ‘Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)’ and even E17’s ‘Stay Another Day’, a thoroughly surreal experience complete with arm-swaying and lighters in the audience. Inevitably, the show closed with joyful dancing and singing along to ‘Fairytale of New York’ before the whole cast of Emmy & Tim’s Christmas extravaganza came on stage for a final bow. Apparently they intend to make this a tradition so, to quote one of the pair’s songs, "see you next year".