REMARKABLE ROCK!

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REMARKABLE ADULT CHOIR. THE ORANGERY, SEWERBY HALL. 17/6/16.

Performing in front of a packed audience, the first adult choir of its kind in Bridlington put on a fantastic show, presenting a forty-five minute set of songs that sounded divine. Opening with Bon Jovi’s 1986 classic “Livin’ on a Prayer,” the choir (superbly mentored by Rebecca Howley, Rebecca Rudd and Tia Mainprize) immediately gelled, charismatic “conductor” (and Classical pianist) Mark Howley leading affairs from the front on keyboard. Stage-left, Ryan Wilson laid down the bass-line, while ace guitarist Curtis Papworth played lead to stunning effect.

“Sweet Child O’ Mine” sounded just as fantastic, one of the greatest-ever rock riffs resonating perfectly, allowing the choir to sing their hearts out, coolly chasing the Guns ‘n’ Roses anthem with Paul McCartney-penned “Live and Let Die.”

It was amazing to think that the choir had only had ten rehearsal sessions, which amounted to approximately sixteen hours in total. Formed back in April, and meeting once a week at The Old Parcels Office at Bridlington Train Station, the choir possessed forty-odd members, some of whom had never sung before. Indeed, for a proportion of choir-members, the performance constituted the first time they’d sung in public, yet nobody’s nerves got the better of them. To the contrary, everybody sounded as confident as could be, savouring the atmosphere and acoustics awarded by such an intimate venue.

Slowing the pace a little with a gorgeous rendition of Coldplay’s “Fix You,” certain choir-members embraced the chance to harmonise, before the choir’s rendition of James Bay’s “Hold Back The River” wowed with its equally-as-emotive clout.

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Veering into rock ‘n’ roll territory with Chuck Berry’s trailblazing “Johnny B. Goode,” the choir’s enjoyment infected the crowd, a twinkle-toed couple seated near the back taking it upon themselves to ditch their seats and start dancing, twirling one another around as though it were the fifties. Given the pace of the song’s melody, Mark’s hands were a blur as they scorched a trail across his keyboard.

Catching his breath, Mark introduced Oasis’ “The Masterplan” by saying that it was one of his favourite songs. Not only that, but it had also become a firm favourite for many choir-members, a fact evidenced by the passion invested in its performance. Then came “Hey Jude,” one of The Beatles’ most popular cuts. ‘If any of you want to join in near the end – great!’ enthused Mark. ‘The only word you need to sing is “nah,” over and over again!’ With the choir’s spine-tingling harmonies threatening to lift the roof clean off The Orangery, Mark, Ryan and Curtis played on, embellishing the main melody, securing a standing ovation as the majority of audience-members rose to their feet, clapping and shouting for more. With no supplementary songs prepared, Mark led the choir into a repeat-performance of “Johnny B. Goode,” which somehow sounded even better the second time around.

Truly remarkable in every respect.

(Steve Rudd)

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