A packed crowd have gathered to see Emmy The Great, real name Emma-Lee Moss, and boyfriend, Tim Wheeler, perform their This Is Christmas album at Manchester’s The Deaf Institute. The opening crash of drums quickly infused with the rhythmic twangs of guitar propels the audience straight into the first song. ‘Marshmallow World’, instantly plies the crowd with enough festive spirit to soften the resolves of even the most ardent of Scrooges. It’s upbeat, irrepressibly high-spirited, and deliciously saccharine. It sounds like ‘Frosty The Snowman’ with a rock conversion. The sleigh bells add an unremitting seasonal exuberance that is only tempered by the guitar solo at the end. “I’m hoping to turn this into an office party,” Wheeler announces, establishing the parameters of the evening. “It’ll get pretty silly.” Taking inspiration from when they were snowed-in last year, Wheeler and Emmy decided to co-write the album together. Second song ‘Snowflakes’ has a more synthesised, plaintive sound stemming from the unabashed sentimentality of it’s nostalgic lyrics, yet simultaneously remaining euphoric and uplifting.
“This one goes out to George Michael.” There is something endearing about Emmy and Wheeler’s rendition of ‘Last Christmas’ that makes you feel as though you’ve just been transported into their living room amongst family and friends. “If you think that was cheesy we’ll go one better. Brace yourselves,” Wheeler muses, demonstrating that they don’t take themselves too seriously, as they set the scene for apocalyptic new single ‘Zombie Christmas’. A backing track of ‘Silent Night’ is corroded by the wail of guitars, before the frenetic rift that ignites this infectious Christmas song kicks-in. Despite lyrics, such as Christmas time is here/ I hate this time of year, ‘Zombie Christmas’ is pop-rock, festive delirium at it’s best.
As they finish their set Wheeler holds a clenched fist of appreciation up in the air to a crushing tide of approval. They re-emerge on stage for their encore five minutes later. “I’d like to bring a special guest up here. He’s a living legend of Manchester; Mr. Johnny Marr!” The presence of a local hero prompts an even greater reaction than if Santa himself had decided to drop in, and in an audio bloodletting of seasonal cheer they immediately launch into Elton John’s ‘Step Into Christmas’. Final song, a cover of The Progue’s ‘Fairy Tale Of New York’, sparks an outbreak of spontaneous dancing, and as the house lights come up no one can deny feeling imbued with Wheeler & Emmy’s twee brand of Yuletide merriment.