LGBTQ Choirs

REVIEW: Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus: AFTER DARK @ St George’s Church, Kemptown

Andrew Kay May 7, 2023

With a promise of a burlesque theme in the programme of their new show After Dark, and the venue dressed to look like a Parisian cabaret theatre, it came as something of a relief that most of Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus (BGMC) kept most of their clothes on. That said, well let’s not go there yet shall we.

BGMC always put on a show and on this occasion they took a very different route by ditching the comedy skits, an element that has not always worked, and choosing a strong theme and an equally sturdy compère in the shape of Mr David Rumelle – a seasoned performer with a fine voice and presence. Giving him two solo numbers was a great idea as he really nailed them both.

The theme of After Dark gave the chorus chance to explore some rather more demanding numbers too, especially in the second half when they reappeared dressed in… well let’s say dressed and semi dressed in a motley assortment of styles held together by a palette of black and purple. And what a sight it was, ranging from sexy to scary, very scary.

All this of course without mentioning the music, and on this occasion they were on top form. Their major ensemble numbers powerful as ever but also they are these days embracing the quieter moments with increased confidence and skill. The programme included some of their previous repertoire, firm favourites with both them and with their loyal audience, but there was plenty new material to enjoy and of course there were solos too and what great solos they were.

Some of the voices perhaps a little too strong for just a simple piano accompaniment but all of them very good indeed. It seems rude to mention just a few but equally rude to not heap praise on Graeme Clark for his rendition of Rough and Ready Man, boy the guy can sing but not only that, he can deliver a number with a theatricality that is pure magic. Then John McPherson gave a chilling version of Creep that had the hairs on my neck on end. His performance was equally dramatic but by employing total physical reserve, breathtaking stuff to be sure.

The second half also showed the choir tackling some far darker material too and truly exploring the theme of the evening. Of course there were moments of lightness, an hysterical and well choreographed Just a Little had us roaring with laughter and in part two a truly bonkers rendition of Lady Marmalade by four guys who bravely sported basques in a way that should perhaps never be repeated, well not in public anyway.

Musical director Tim Nail and chorus master Joe Paxton keep this fine chorus on a steady keel and their focus on using their own and exclusive arrangements is a credit to them and a word should said too for another great arrangement, this time of the Annie Lennox number No More I Love Yous by baritone Sadao Ueda.

BGMC is a fine ensemble and one the city should be proud of. Their passion and dedication is exemplary, a fine night of entertainment