A new clubbing event created by Reverend & The Makers‘ Jon McClure, Line Of Duty star Vicky McClure and filmmaker Jonny Owen returns this weekend – with the stars behind it describing it as “harking back to an older tradition”.
As venues struggle for income and face constant threats of closure, the idea of maximising their revenue has become ever more important. This means daytime events are starting to become important, so new club idea Day Fever is especially welcome.
The brainchild of actor and filmmaker Jonny Owen, together with his wife – This Is England and Line Of Duty actor Vicky McClure, currently the lead in ITV thriller series Trigger Point – and their friend, Reverend & The Makers singer Jon McClure, Day Fever is a daytime disco celebrating the best chart music “from 1955 to the turn of the century.”
After its first two events at Sheffield City Hall sold out instantly, Day Fever events have sold out in seven cities nationwide, including Jonny and Vicky’s respective hometowns of Merthyr Tydfil and Nottingham.
“It breaks my heart to see so many venues closing or struggling,” Jonny told NME. “Venues across the country are contacting us about hosting Day Fever, as they’re currently closed during the day. That’s great if we can help, because venues are important to the social fabric of every town they’re in.”
With Day Fever’s first nationwide run starting this Saturday (February 10) in London at Here At Outernet, Jonny, Vicky and Jon spoke to NME of their female-dominated audiences, the importance of ignoring cool and whether or not the two McClures are related.
NME: Hello to the three of you How did Day Fever’s concept of a club during the day come about?
Jonny Owen: “I had a show on Talksport and said on there: ‘I’m sure a club in the afternoon would be a good idea’. I’m 52. People of my vintage want to go out in the day, rather than being in a club at 2am. Jon was the first person to say: ‘Yeah, this could work. Let’s do this’.”
Jon McClure: “Figures show that kids are also wanting to have more daytimes shows too. I’m naturally cautious. I’m in a mid-level indie band, so I’m not one for: ‘Raaah! This is going to go mad!’ But Day Fever has obviously hit a nerve with people.”
Vicky McClure: “My sister has two kids and does the school run. People say stuff to her about me sometimes. But she says she’s never had so many people ask her about anything I’ve done more than Day Fever, asking her for tickets. Parents can go and have a night out, during the day, then still be back at a good time to get up and do the football run or whatever their kids do on a Sunday morning.”
Jonny: “Jon, his brother Chris and their friend Jimmy O’Hara, who runs Tramlines festival, had the expertise to make it happen.”
Jon: “Chris understands people really well and my wife Laura is Reverend & The Makers’ tour manager, as well as our keyboardist. She’s used to the back-end side of dealing with reps. We’ve got a good cross-section of people bringing it to life.”
How important is it that this helps gives an extra revenue stream to struggling venues?
Jon: “I’m a patron of Music Venue Trust, who do amazing work. Day Fever helps double the time that venues can do things. The idea almost harks back to the ‘50s, the days of tea dances. Even when rock ‘n’ roll came along, my uncle went to an afternoon bill at Sheffield City Hall where he saw Jimi Hendrix, The Walker Brothers and Cat Stevens. We’re harking back to an older tradition. People have daytime shows in other parts of the world. It’s a British thing that we do everything at night.”
How did you get to know each other? Is it a McClure thing?
Jon: “Vicky has acted in a lot of Warp Films’ stuff, so we’ve a connection through my friend Mark Herbert, who runs Warp. Jonny and Chris are friends through football, then Jonny and Vicky came to my gig at Rock City in Nottingham about 10 years ago and we’ve stayed pals. We always joke that Vicky is my sister.”
Vicky: “Jon’s mum thinks we’re related. We need to do some digging on it, as we are cut from the same cloth. Now, that would be a fun revelation.”
What have the audiences been like at the shows so far?
Vicky: “It’s important to say that tickets are capped at a tenner for everywhere except London. That’s a reasonable price for what Day Fever is. It’s not a show or a big performance, it’s a room with music that’s carefully devised, but that’s it. It’s a simple concept, and you don’t want to charge people £40 for it. It’s accessible for everyone. What people then get is what they want: put the tunes on and let’s go.”
Jonny: “It was as if people wouldn’t believe it was real if it was only a tenner in London. I hate that people are getting squeezed in the cost of living crisis, so keeping the price low was vital.”
Jon: “The best thing about Day Fever is that 75 per cent of the crowds are women. It’s beautiful to see women coming together, feeling safe, not having fellers leching on them. There’s no-one scrapping or doing coke in the toilets. It’s a nicer, no aggy atmosphere, and a lot of this is catered towards that. If you drop an Abba tune, the roof comes off.”
What is Day Fever’s music policy?
Jonny: “I thought that, if you play music people really know, they’d enjoy that. I don’t care about rare Northern Soul B-sides like I did when I was 15. I want to sing along to Blondie and Dexys Midnight Runners. I want to be able to recognise the songs and dance to them. That’s Day Fever’s philosophy.”
Vicky: “I describe it as a wedding without the wedding. It’s Whitney, Blondie, [Pulp‘s] ‘Common People’. When you hit a certain age, nostalgia means so much. You see people explode when they’re there, as it’s the freedom of having a dance. I dance a lot in the kitchen, but I’d much rather do it with my mates in a proper space.”
Jon: “I used to DJ at an indie night, where I’d turn up and play ragga, ruining the night. There’s none of that. We’ve compiled a jukebox we have to choose from and it’s just goodtime music. A lot of it is music I wouldn’t have listened to when I was growing up.
“I hated George Michael when I was growing up, as I was very much: ‘I love The Fall and The Velvet Underground, man’. Now I’m 42, I see George was a genius. Day Fever celebrates the collective consciousness of the 20th century: put on ‘Baggy Trousers’ by Madness and everyone goes mental.”
Jonny: “We’re adding songs to the jukebox all the time. The group we’ve been caught short on is Spice Girls. You go: ‘Of course we should have had ‘Stop’.’ We’re always learning.”
Is anything musically off limits?
Jon: “My brother wouldn’t have ‘YMCA’ by The Village People. I told him: ‘I beg you, play it’ and everyone went crazy for it. Vicky and Jonny sent a video to our WhatsApp the other night of her singing Boyzone, going: ‘Get this on the jukebox!’ I was: ‘Er, we might need to talk about this one’.”
Jonny and Vicky: As a married couple, is there any competitiveness on whose tunes go down best?
Jonny: “There is, actually. In the nicest way, I’ve been surprised by how well some of Vicky’s choices go down.”
Vicky: “I forget which, but I was singing a Jacksons song before I played it, going: ‘This is such a banger!” It didn’t go down as well as I’d thought. Jonny looked at me as if to say: (Comedy mocking voice) ‘Told ya!’”
Jonny: “Candi Staton saved it for you.”
Vicky: “Motown will always rescue it.”
Could Day Fever be used as the start of someone’s night out – go straight from your event to an all-nighter?
Jonny: “Those with a more robust constitution can crack on.”
Jon: “Richard Hawley came to the last one. He was: ‘Come on then, all down to (Sheffield pub) Fagans and get on the Guinness’. No chance. Now and again, I can still go all day and night, but I went for a curry and was in the house for 10pm, nice and steady.”
Jonny: “You can leave Day Fever, go have some food and still be home for Match Of The Day. Everybody wins.”
How far do you want to take Day Fever? Will it be ongoing?
Jonny: “Absolutely. If we can help people go out during the day, I’m very happy with that. We want to make it monthly and I want Day Fever to be a sign of quality: great music, great lightshow, safe and well-run, keeping the price right down. You can have a few drinks, have the best time and be home by teatime. What a great thing to take around the country.”
The upcoming Day Fever events are below. Visit here for tickets and more information.
10: London, Here At Outernet
2: Manchester, New Century Hall
9: Sheffield, City Hall
23: Merthyr Tydfil, Scala
30: Nottingham, Stealth
13: Glasgow, BaaD
25: Cardiff, Depot