It’s 11th September at the Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen and a heady air of anticipation is building.
For the gig is a return to the spotlight for Caggie Dunlop, former Made in Chelsea star, that’s been some six years in the making.
Made in Chelsea first slid onto our screens back in 2011, a carefully curated glimpse into the world of wealthy young sloanes partying all over the leafier postcodes of West London.
Break ups and betrayals have littered every season since, but no love story has been as tantalisingly fraught as that of Caggie Dunlop, the doe-eyed young woman reconnecting with her childhood sweetheart, (Spencer Matthews), in the first two series of the show.
Caggie and Spencer’s love is meant to be…and yet it never quite is…
Intense confrontations, emotional declarations and sudden partings characterised their story.
When Caggie flew the scene in 2012, we, like Spencer, were left only with memories.
And with Caggie’s return to the public eye, this time as a singer-songwriter, it is all too easy to assume that every song she sings is about Spencer.
Many of us blithely ignore the fact that Caggie will have had love interests pre and post Spencer, who is now a happily married father.
And it doesn’t help that Caggie’s first single of the summer, Here We Are Again, released on 4th July, was a wistful, ephemeral wisp of electro-pop about bumping into an old flame and realising that nothing’s changed:
Hi, you say hey,
We pretend like we’re ok.
We don’t talk about the way we were.
Over ice and Tanqueray, one more drink and I might say
Can we talk about the way we were?
But the track doesn’t require any groundless speculation to win us over; it is surprisingly addictive all by itself. You may even find it reverberating in your head as you reach for the brussel sprouts in your local Tescos.
I did. And if that isn’t the litmus test of a catchy song, then I don’t know what is.
What can also be addictive is love itself; Thinking About You, Dunlop’s second single, released on 24th August, is about a man she can’t get out of her head (sorry, Kylie), as is 12 Steps (the clue is in the title).
So Caggie’s gig is essentially a gloriously confessional clutch of torch songs, lent real depth by the intensity of her performance.
Here’s Caggie explaining the inspiration behind 12 Steps:
Caggie’s music could be described as electro-pop, and even if that isn’t quite your (Gucci) bag, anyone who has ever looked back over their shoulder at a departing lover, will recognise the authenticity with which she writes and sings.
But the truth is, Caggie could stand on stage eating oranges and we’d still smash our hands together and ask for an encore.
(People did ask for an encore, actually, even without the oranges.)
For Caggie is a magnetic figure up on that stage; more confident than we’ve ever seen her, much funnier than we remember, and more than a little quirky.
I don’t remember this Caggie from Made in Chelsea.
The warmth and spontaneity with which she reaches out to the crowd is completely disarming. She checks in with us, asks our opinion and makes the odd self-deprecating joke.
But we have no call to laugh at Caggie, as we so often do at other reality TV stars, when they try to forge a career.
She is now completely at home on stage and has such a natural bonhomie and (dare I say it?) sparkle, that makes you hope that she will always be a performer, in whatever form that may take; music, presenting or acting.
Here she is taking the importance of audience participation to another level:
The gig wasn’t just a musical performance, it was a masterclass in charisma.
She stood on that stage yesterday night and held us all in the palm of her hand.
Caggie Dunlop – we never knew you…