Harrogate. Gypsy Queens. Spiegeltent: Gracias, Merci, Grazie.

Festival favourites cut up the rug on Crescent Gardens
Emma Chesworth
July 4, 2024

As people head to the polls today I can’t help feeling that all the political parties had something missing from their General Election manifestos. 

Making The Gypsy Queens available on prescription would be a huge boost to the nation’s health and happiness. They are a tonic - a multilingual, joyous one at that.

The sell-out crowd at Harrogate International Festival’s Spiegeltent certainly enjoyed a huge dopamine hit as the five piece rattled through almost 40 hits - every one of which guaranteed to get feet dancing and voices singing.

The Spiegeltent, on Crescent Gardens, is a beautiful structure and with the summer light shining through the coloured glass ceiling panels, it created a magical venue. The Gypsy Queens made their way onto stage, snaking through the audience, heralding their arrival playing music as they weaved along their way.

Kitted out in pastel checked jackets, The Gypsy Queens exude happiness. They all beam as they reach the stage and launch into ‘I’m Into Something Good’. It sets the tone for the evening - everyone is there to have fun together. The crowd is one huge backing singer for the band. 

Lead singer and guitarist, Didier Casnati tells the crowd they don’t have a set list - they just play what they want and they happily take requests throughout the show. They played Harrogate Festival in 2022, selling out then too and it is clear they are known and loved by much of the crowd. 

The Gypsy Queens
The Gypsy Queens

Didier is Italian and the band was formed in Nice, France. They play a large number of multi-lingual covers with ‘Volare’, made popular by their regal counterparts, The Gipsy Kings, as well as Dean Martin, next up for the Harrogate crowd.

The line-up is completed by Joan Chavez on double bass, Geronimo Ribas on guitar, Liam Hornsby on drums and relative newcomer, Tyler Gasek on saxophone. They are hugely popular on the celebrity party set - Elton John is a fan.

With their effortless harmonies and easygoing style it is easy to see why they are likened to the Beach Boys. Having started out as street musicians, they know how to engage their audience. Hit after hit, including ‘Space Cowboy’, ‘I Can See Clearly Now’, ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ (this is performed again after the encore at the request of someone in the crowd), ‘California Dreaming’ and ‘Sweet Caroline’. There isn’t time to draw breath from all the singing. ‍

The crowd are happy to join in with the French, Italian and Spanish songs including The Gipsy Kings hit, ‘Bamboléo’, ‘Bueno Sera’, the French song ‘Aicha’ and the Italian ‘Parole, Parole’. With the Euros being in full swing on the football pitch, the The Gypsy Queens in the Spiegeltent were creating a cosmopolitan vibe right in the heart of North Yorkshire.

As they play ‘Proud Mary’ Didier jumps off stage into the crowd singing and strumming before rejoining his bandmates on stage. They manage to fit in ’Sweet Home Alabama’ and ‘My Girl’ before taking a well deserved break. It is lovely to step outside the Spiegeltent and enjoy the coolness of the evening before the quintet returns for a second half of hits.

Under the sparkling lights of the Spiegeltent’s silver glitterball we are treated to ‘Do You St Tropez’, ‘Mama Mia', and ‘Pretty Woman’ before someone in the audience requests ‘That’s Amore' which is duly performed. Their stage presence is fun - they interact with each other as well as the crowd. Sax player Tyler contorts himself on stage as he plays. They seem to enjoy the night as much as we do.

Didier says they are ‘the most famous band you have never heard of’. They have played at Glastonbury but now are very much in demand on the private party circuit. In the intimate setting of the Spiegeltent, it feels like we are being treated to our very own party.‍

It’s no wonder the crowd can’t stop singing. They continue with ‘Build Me Up Buttercup’, ‘Brown Eyed Girl’, ‘I Love Rock and Roll’, 'Karma Chameleon’, ‘I Can’t Get No Satisfaction’ and ‘Crocodile Rock’ by their fan, Elton John. It’s a roll call of happiness.

The final song (which of course isn’t) is ‘La Bamba’ and Didier again gets down from the stage to join the crowd. An encore of ‘Let’s Twist Again’, ‘Great Balls of Fire’ and ‘Johnny B Goode’ isn’t enough to satisfy the Harrogate crowd. John Denver’s ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads’ gets its second airing before a finale of ‘Wonderwall’. 

The Gypsy Queens are quite simply great musicians who know how to have fun. For more than two hours, people danced, swayed and sang and everyone went home happy. 

So to The Gypsy Queens, I say thank you, gracias, merci, grazie. You put on one belter of a show.