Written by Yolanda Leask

A peculiar yet charming hybrid of live music and burlesque cabaret, The Greatest Show in the Universe is by no means a modest title. The event, held at the art deco, subterranean venue Madame Jojo's in Soho, featured live sets from Will and the People and Kentish Fire. These two up-and-coming London bands held their own against a backdrop of risqué showmanship from Miss Bettsie Bonbon. The transatlantic host Go Go Harder, a camp circus ringmaster meets glittery-eyed Lady Gaga, served as master of ceremonies. He introduced such ukulele-playing acts as the member of Duran Duran who never was, Jack the Stripper and the slightly elderly Mr Ukulele Eric, whose cheekily homoerotic homage to George Formby's 'Little Stick of Blackpool Rock' was thoroughly memorable.

The self-titled 'indie disco militia', Kentish Fire comprise of a veritable melange of members all in their mid-twenties. If you were to squint a bit, you could easily be forgiven for thinking that Moby and Newton Faulkner had decided to give up their solo careers to join the band, as dreadlocked lead guitarist Andrew (aka Snakes) and smoothy smooth-headed synth player and vocalist Warren lead us to believe. Perhaps this is just an ingenious marketing ploy? Though with Kentish Fire's energetic performance style and punchy, staccato tunes, I'd say that there's no need to cash in on anybody else's fame.

Their synchronised, percussive clapping only adds to the insistently infectious sound, and the on-stage frolicking complete with uninhibited dancing implies that Kentish Fire are an act who don't take themselves too seriously. This is surely a trait which makes them more rewarding to watch, because particularly in such an intimate venue as Madame Jojo's, the audience plays a central part in the performance.

Will and the People proved themselves to be a promising act from the moment they walked on stage, yet their appearance is simultaneously casual and unassuming. Fronted by the bohemian progeny of Worzel Gummidge, it is clear to hear the reggae influences in the music of vocalist Will and his people: Jim the keyboardist, Keo the bassist and Charlie the drummer. Despite these clear influences, they happen to be very versatile musicians producing an original, dynamic and intriguing sound. They even managed to keep their composure when confronted with the tempting wiggle of Miss Bettsie Bonbon, who joined them on stage for a ska number.

The unusual contrast of the cabaret performances with the live bands made for a highly varied demographic amongst the audience members. It initially appeared to have largely attracted women in their forties, with the occasional bloke who'd been dragged along. However as the evening progressed, the crowd got younger and younger. The lower seating was cleared to make way for a packed dancefloor, ending with a hip hop DJ set as the venue became less of a cabaret bar and more of a nightclub.

This sort of variety performance catering to a crowd of assorted tastes and ages is definitely a rarity amongst live music events in Britain, and yet it provided such a wonderful evening of entertainment. Whether it lives up to its ambitious title or not is for you to decide, as 'The Greatest Show in the Universe' is on at Madame Jojo's on the last Sunday of every month. With quality live performances from Will and the People as the house band, Camden-based Kentish Fire and humorous cabaret acts like Mr Ukulele Eric, you'd be a fool to miss it.