Sunday, 6 April 2014

Concert with the Hathern band - an audience member's review

Well it says it all about the way my life is these days, that this is my first blog post of 2014 and it is April 6th. Shocking!
As some readers will be aware, I have had to take a break from the Loughborough Male Voice Choir for several reasons. Firstly, there's the demands of  my Open University study which started in October 2013. It was becoming increasingly evident that fitting study into work lunchtimes was going to be woefully inadequate. Add into the mix a couple of family crises that have turned our world upside down and it was becoming clear that something had to give. So a 'timeout' has been called  and it's merely au revoir LMVC for just a few months.
As sad as this move is, it at least  gives me the opportunity to attend a concert as a member of the audience for the first time since that night in 2011 in Kegworth when I got my arm twisted by Chris Hill to come along and give singing a go. I did toy with the idea of just turning up in Hathern and singing, but with several new numbers to be sung with the band, that was always a non-starter. Anyway, I was quite looking forward to just listening for a change.
The thing I have found about singing in a choir is that one cannot fully appreciate what the overall sound of the choir is actually like. I hear my fellow second tenors and the first tenors a bit too, but how we fit in with the basses and baritones is always a bit lost on me. So this promised to be and indeed did prove to be very, very interesting.
So, All in the April Evening was the title for this concert with the excellent Hathern Band, at St Peter & St Paul's Church, Hathern. Ruth and I decided to go just in time as only 7 tickets remained on Friday and was a sell-out on the night. We got there early to find quite a lot of folks already in their seats. The Hathern Band kicked off proceedings, led by the enthusiastic and witty David Newman. A Broadway medley followed by Lord of the Dance and the Bond movie theme Skyfall were all very impressive. I just love the sound of brass - fabulous!
Then it was the turn of the chaps. Blimey, it was weird sitting in my seat and watching them assemble at the front virtually on top of the front row of the audience. Their first four pieces, Speed Your Journey; He Ain't Heavy; Panis Angelicus and Gwahoddiad were very good. Panis particularly was a vast improvement on the last time I attempted to sing it with the choir that's for sure. During Gwahoddiad, I just couldn't help but join in and neither could Don Clarke sitting behind me. It is definitely my favourite LMVC piece if only for it's 'Amen' climax. Breathtaking to sing and, I'm happy to report, listen to. Well done guys - bloody marvellous!
To round off the first half the band and choir joined together for the concert title song, All in the April Evening followed by a new one to me, Comrades in Arms. For these we had the impressive spectacle of tandem conducting - Mr Hill conducting the choir with David Newman watching him and simultaneously conducting the band. What could have been something of a car crash actually worked very well and with the choir standing in front of the band, this prevented the lads from being drowned out by music.
So, half time refreshments and a chance to chat with some of the guys who were keen to know why the hell I was sitting in the audience rather than singing with them.
Hathern Band started part two with Doh-re-mi from the Sound of Music, followed by two pieces, Frolic for Trombones, described as a trombone trio for 4 (wonder where they stole that idea from eh Lyndon?) and Something Stupid with two cornets. Their second set was rounded off with a medley of tunes from the film Oh What a Lovely War. All fabulous stuff - loved it!

Next we had some West Side Story from the Male Voice Choir with Lyndon Gardner singing Maria followed by the choir with Tonight. Then the choir sang The Way We Were and rounded things off with good ol' Amarillo. Ruth reckoned that The Way We Were was the best she had ever heard it. As for Amarillo, well....

Okay, at the risk of offending our dear MD, I need to say this. This particular performance of this much maligned piece said to me at least, that Amarillo has had its day. The choir looked fed up of it and it showed as it nearly ground to a halt at a couple of points. The clapping lacked any real enthusiasm and it kinda fell apart a bit. The chaps just looked fed up of it to me, so maybe it is time to look elsewhere for comic relief? Time perhaps to find another light hearted, audience participation piece? Over to you Mr Hill. I'm sure you've got spmething up your sleeve!

On a more positive note was the appearance of the choir, who have certainly moved on from the 'Grumpy Old Men' personna of days gone by. This  has been helped in no small part by the likes of Derrick Jackson whose bright expressive singing was a joy to behold. I can certainly learn a thing or two about using expression when singing as Caroline will I'm sure agree. And the lack of copies is a massive step forward and looks so much better.

All that was left was for the choir and band to join again for the grand finale, Jerusalem which got me, Don and much of the audience joining in. Indeed shouts of 'more' meant a hasty re-run of the song. Chris Hill commented in an email to all the choir on Sunday morning that he can't remember the last time an audience has demanded an encore from us. Apparently, Hathern Band are keen to repeat this gig next year. So that's all good!

Well there you have it. A fascinating evening for me to see and hear my beloved choir from the audience. There might be another concert or two that I miss out on before I leap back aboard the 'Good Ship LMVC'. That said, 'Songs in the Park' in May might see an appearance....

Cheers for now,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Any comments or questions? Just drop me a line!