SLT FEB24 Last Dinner Party

A closer look: What makes The Last Dinner Party the “Sound of 2024”?

Nicolas Alsteen

After leaving London with a medieval wardrobe, a certain sense of grandeur, and a few theatrical melodies, the five girls in The Last Dinner Party have already seduced Nick Cave, Lana Del Rey, and the Rolling Stones. The rest of the world is also bound to succumb to the English band’s infectious charms.

Announced as sold-out just minutes after tickets went on sale, The Last Dinner Party in concert is, without a doubt, one of the main events in Brussels this month. The emergence of the London band, scheduled to perform at the Botanique, has been accompanied by a healthy excitement, but also an avalanche of expectations and extravagant promises. Recently crowned at the BRIT Awards in the “Rising Star” category, the five girls have also showed up on the British public broadcaster’s radar. In the land of the Beatles, BBC Radio 1 has just given them the impressive accolade, “Sound of 2024”. Having seen the line-ups of the various key events for festival-goers next summer, we can already confirm the radio station’s prediction. Such mainstays as Primavera Sound, Coachella, and Rock Werchter will be on the menu of the next tour. But where does this enthusiasm come from, when Prelude to Ecstasy, the English band’s first album, has only just been released?

To understand the origins of this huge media frenzy, we need to go back in time, to the heart of the City of Westminster. It was there that Lizzie Mayland (guitar), Abigail Morris (voice), and Georgia Davies (bass) first met while studying at the prestigious King’s College. After class, the three friends would usually get together for a beer at the Windmill, a Brixton landmark. For a few years, this jumping venue drew together the energy of the alternative scene in London, serving as a launching pad for numerous talented musicians. Shame, Black Midi, and Black Country, New Road, among others, started out here.

That musical buzz sparked a desire in the three friends. Motivated by the idea of performing at the Windmill, they formed a rock band in autumn 2021 with the pianist Aurora Nishevci and the guitarist Emily Roberts, two music students. That is how the famous five started The Last Dinner Party, a stage name that evokes, alternately, a banquet at the end of the world, a mystical painting, and the final scene in a film by Thomas Vinterberg (the director of Festen and Druk). Medieval costumes, dresses inspired by the Renaissance, references to the writings of Virginia Woolf, a gothic aesthetic, and epic pop are on the menu with this band, whose songs owe as much to Kate Bush as to ABBA, not to mention Queen, David Bowie, and Arcade Fire.

Onstage, the band’s first concerts caused a sensation. Very soon, videos filmed by fans began to emerge on social media, generating interest via word of mouth and arousing the curiosity of the entire music industry. Long before those performances caught the attention of major record companies and The Last Dinner Party signed a contract with Island Records (the label of The Killers, Angèle, and Shawn Mendes), the band was aware of its potential for success. “Even though our audiences were small in the beginning, we had a lot of ambition and a great deal of confidence in ourselves,” recalls the singer Abigail Morris, in an interview granted in the magazine NME. “We knew what we wanted to do. That gave us the courage to play everywhere and for anyone at all, knowing that we were in the process of building something.”

Dress code

In spring 2023, thanks to an explosive hit, a track entitled “Nothing Matters”, The Last Dinner Party became a viral phenomenon. The video that accompanied the release of their first song exhibited the style of the five girls who, in a series of custom-made costumes, chant a haunting refrain around a lost tomb in a cemetery in the middle of nowhere. The photography in the video is dazzling. Overnight, all eyes were on the musicians. Florence + The Machine, Nick Cave, and Lana Del Rey are among those who have praised the track, which was produced by James Ford (Arctic Monkeys, Gorillaz, Depeche Mode).

“People are always suspicious when girls get together. More often than not, that disapproval comes from other women”

Abigail Morris in 'Harper’s Bazaar'

Straight afterwards, the Rolling Stones invited The Last Dinner Party to play in the first part of their show at Hyde Park. The girls followed this up with an appearance at Glastonbury and a sold-out tour in the US. Starting from their first concerts in the States, audiences rallied to the English cause. In Los Angeles, for example, some fans turned up wearing hand-embroidered biker jackets, while others opted for Victorian-era dresses. The band’s wardrobe has become like a beacon. “There is no specific dress code for our concerts,” says the bassist Georgia Davies in NME. “To us, it’s above all a matter of personal expression which, perhaps, indicates the birth of a sense of community.”

A marketing ploy?

Currently, the community around The Last Dinner Party is rallying behind Prelude to Ecstasy. Featuring tracks that have been tested onstage (“Caesar on a TV Screen”, “Beautiful Boy”) and certified hits (“Nothing Matters”, “On Your Side”), the album showcases the diversity of the repertoire performed by the five musicians. At times very over-the-top and theatrical, the album is steeped at its roots in glam-rock and full of radio overtones. At others, erotic metaphors and sexual innuendos slip into the lyrics, attacking the foundations of patriarchal society (“The Feminine Urge”). “Every track explores the concept of ecstasy,” explains the singer Abigail Morris in the French version of the fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar. “Often, the origin of ecstasy is joy, but it can also be linked to pain. In The Last Dinner Party, we analyse the spectrum of human emotions to figure out how we fit into this world.”

The Last Dinner Party is now attracting attention from all over the world. Perfectly packaged, almost too perfectly, the project nonetheless elicits criticism from some members of the public, who perceive its stellar rise to be the result of a contrived marketing ploy. “People are always suspicious when girls get together,” says the singer. “But what disappoints us the most is that the disapproval, more often than not, comes from other women. There will always be someone who disapproves of our music or the way we dress.”

The Last Dinner Party 21/2, Botanique,

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