What?: Babu was about 10 months old when I started up Bablands. We lived in Hampstead Village at the time and I remember once walking her past a big recording studio there, seeing an LSO tourbus parked outside and thinking how great it would be if the LSO did events for preschoolers. As it turned out they did. However, they were infrequent and when they did eventually pop up they always seemed to sell out as quickly as they’d been announced.
It took us nearly two years to get tickets to one of their under-5s concerts – a musical retelling of Robert Starling’s best-selling picture book, Fergal is Fuming, about a short-tempered dragon who manages to burn everything. Probably just as well really; if she was any younger I doubt she’d have appreciated it and while these are great they’re definitely aimed at the kids rather than the grown-ups, and it’d be a bit of a weird one to rock up to purely for your own benefit.
The closest thing I can compare this to is probably Bach to Baby, in that there are a bunch of classical musicians and the whole thing is pretty laid back and covered in toddlers, although I have to say I felt a bit more on edge when Babu ran to the front and started interfering with the instruments than I ever have at Bach to Baby – partly because it felt just that bit more formal and partly because my friend got told off by another mum for letting her kid run free because he was “distracting her”.
I liked that each of the instruments was introduced almost as a new character and the show as a whole was pretty interactive – particularly at the beginning – but Babu still managed to get “bored” about a third of the way in, which is a theme that seems to be common to basically everything we do at the moment. I also really struggled to follow the story and presumably she did too, but I suspect that was more to do with her total inability to sit still and my anxiety about her running around tripping over people’s knees than a story written for preschoolers actually being hard to follow.
Where and When?: Concerts last 45 minutes and take place once a term at Jerwood Hall, LSO St Luke’s, which is a five-minute walk from Old Street station. Check the LSO website for upcoming dates.
Best Bits: Gorgeous venue, great musicians and pretty good value for money.
Worst Bits: Not LSO’s fault at all but I wish people would just chill the hell out and stop making other parents feel like crap because their child just so happens to have the attention span of a pea.
Facilities: Step-free access, buggy parking, baby changing.
Cost: £7 adults, £5 children.
Would We Come Back?: I’d probably wait for an adaptation of something Babu’s familiar with in the hope that she might be a bit more engaged.
Babu plays post-concert at LSO St. Luke’s, Old Street.