LGBTQ Choirs

REVIEW: Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus: “Out, and wanting everyone to know it!”

Brian Butler July 30, 2023

Out, and wanting everyone to know it, Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus’s (BGMC) summer concert at St George’s Church, Kemptown packed a Duracell bunny punch with a powerful display of emotion.

And the big audience revelled in its tough love, advocacy and defiance. They opened with the full-throated Scared of the Dark, compete with hand actions, and followed up with the aptly titled Does Your Mother Know?. It was at a rollicking pace and led on to that queer anthem True Colours, with a great heartfelt solo by Joe Christopherson.

Madness had a punchy rhythm, hammered home with the repeated mmm… mad. It had a real kick to it. A juxtaposition of Confide In Me and Can’t Get You Out Of My Head, was dramatically powerfully with a slight sinister tone to it.

Elton John’s I Want Love deals with the improbability of romance and Karl Fisher brought out a new look at this song: “I want love; just a different kind”, and I hope he won’t mind me saying, an older man’s perspective. Later we got more Elton with Adam Betteridge’s staggering version of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road – mournful, cynical and full of anguish.

I’ve written before about BGMC’s take on Secret Love – giving it a defiant, proud, queer new life and they really rose to it this time round too. Ben Fowler in Roar also gave us a song of defiance, with a determination to be yourself – “I went from zero to my own hero,” Ben sang triumphantly.

And how could you have a queer celebration of being out, without It’s A Sin? They completely mastered its complex rhythms, and then topped it with Venus. “She’s got it,” and they had it too!

In the second half, we got classics like It’s Raining Men, but also the hilarious double entendre patter song Way Ahead Of My Time, in which the tap dancing Graeme Clark half-outed himself as the first queer caveman. Brilliantly performed.

We had to get Over The Rainbow, but in an arrangement for South Wales Gay Men’s Chorus, which had strange harmonies but a very interesting piece I’d need to hear again. Rod Edmunds’ solo A Change In Me, was simple, beautiful and full of emotion. A fault with the mic meant that Sadao Ueda’s No Matter What wasn’t amplified but his gentle tones meant it didn’t matter and the whole hall was silent during it. It was a gripping song from the heart.

I’ve said a couple of times before that the chorus’ inclusion of dramatised dialogue scenes in my opinion – and it is just my opinion – doesn’t add to the evening and interrupts the flow and musical and emotional arc. This time it was a kind of take-off of The Wizard of Oz. I’ve said my piece and others will disagree I’m sure.

What adds so much to the strength of this chorus is the sensitive, generous piano accompaniment of Tim Nail and the energetic, charismatic leadership from chorus director Joe Paxton.

The concert raised funds for the marvellous Albert Kennedy Trust, which helps homeless LGBTQ+ young people who have often been thrown out by their families. More information HERE

Photos by Nick Ford Photography