Posts Tagged ‘Cyder Cellars (music hall)’

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Victor Liston

April 18, 2013

Victor Liston (1838-1913), English music hall vocalist and comedian
(photo: photo: T. Pope, Birmingham, circa 1874)

Collins’s Music Hall, Islington Green, London
‘Mr. Victor Liston adheres to the legitimate, and sings those songs which can hardly be called new-fangled. His “shabby-genteel” impersonation is excellent. Mr. Liston sang four songs, and enjoyed a recall on the evening of our visit to Collins’s.’
(The Entr’acte, London, Saturday, 17 December 1881, p.6b)

* * * * * * * *

Too proud to beg, too honest to steal,
I know what it is to be wanting a meal;
My tatters and rags, I try to conceal,
I’m one of the Shabby Genteel.

* * * * * * * *

‘Mr Victor Liston, another favourite comic singer, made his first appearance when seventeen years old [in 1855] at a benefit at the Old Bower Saloon, Stangate Street [London]. Afterwards he sang at various of the smaller halls, such as Price’s in the Caledonian Road, which was only open on Saturday nights, and where “Billy Randall” [William Randall (1830-1898)] was very popular. Then Harry Fox [1817-1876], of the Middlesex [music hall, Drury Lane], sent Liston to Sheffield, where he played at Parker’s, where J.H. Ridley and his wife, Marie Barnum, sister to Johnny Barnum, started as duettists. After a long provincial probation, Liston returned to London and sang at the Grapes, the Coal Hole, the Cyder Cellars, the Dr Johnson, and Macdonald’s in Hoxton, where Fred Albert [1845-1886] made one of his earliest appearances. This is now used as a mission hall. One night [in 1868] Liston deputised at the old Philharmonic [Islington Green], then under the proprietorship of the late Mr Sam Adams, and made such a success with his song “Shabby Genteel” [written by Henry S. Leigh, a noted contributor to the satirical periodical Punch], that he stayed there for seven months, a ditty which Harry Clifton [1832-1872] used to sing in his “two-hours’ entertainment.” Victor Liston was also popular at the Metropolitan, Collins’s, and at Evans’s, where one night H.R.H. the Prince of Wales [later King Edward VII] brought the Duke and Duchess of Sutherland expressly to hear “Shabby Genteel.” After a five months’ successful visit to America, Liston returned to England. Among his principal songs were “The Auctioneer’s Daughter,” “Charming Arabella,” “Polly Darling,” and “Of Course it’s no Business of Mine.” The last-named was written by Arthur Lloyd [1840-1904], the others by G.W. Hunt [1851-1936]. On one occasion Liston was a member of Sam Hague’s Minstrels. He was also manager of the Bon Accord Music Hall, at Aberdeen, and “ran” halls of his own at Gloucester and Cheltenham, where George Leybourne [1842-1884] and other stars appeared.’
(Charles Douglas Stuart and A.J. Park, The Variety Stage, T. Fisher Unwin, London, 1895, pp.108 and 109)

* * * * * * * *

‘It is sad to relate that towards his end, Victor Liston became the embodiment of [“Shabby Genteel”] himself, for he met with misfortune and, dressed carefully, but in threadbare clothes trying to keep up appearances, was himself, as was the hero of his song, too often wanting a meal.’
(W. Macqueen-Pope, The Melodies Linger On, W.H. Allen, London, 1950, p.311)