Douze Points: Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus: Music Review

Besi Besemar May 18, 2013

Brighton Gay Men's Chorus at the Brighthelm Centre
Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus at the Brighthelm Centre

Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus contribution to this years Brighton Fringe was Douze Points!

“Amidst claims that Eurovision has had it’s day, Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus imagine what might happen should Brighton attempt to stage an alternative song contest. What would be the highs and lows, the delights and disasters? Would it be a fabulous folly or a scandalous success?”

The chorus gave three performances of the show, two at the Brighthelm Centre in Queens Road and one as part of Pride at the Fringe at the Sabai Pavilion in the Ladyboys Tent on Victoria Gardens.


Brighton Gay Men's Chorus

The two performances were like chalk and cheese.

The Brighthelm concert was quite formal in the surrounding of the main hall at this religious venue while the theatrical setting of the Ladyboys Tent allowed the chorus to let their hair down, relax and deliver a more fun and ultimately musically satisfying performance. The material for both shows was the same but the resulting performances were very different.

Brighton Gay Men's Chorus

Only negative at the Brighthelm Centre concert were the acoustics of the hall, which were quite dead making the choirs job much harder. Voices are very exposed in such an acoustic which ultimately makes a choir sing in rather than out. Consequentially the Brighthelm Concert I attended was very safe and contained. However in the surroundings of the Ladyboys tent the choir opened up, relaxed, let their hair down and had more fun, resulting in a better musical experience for this listener. The production values of the Ladyboys tent with the lighting, the audience seated around tables and very good sound system certainly added to the entertainment value of the show, but more importantly the choir seemed much more comfortable and able to perform in this more theatrical setting.

Douze Points! included a series of standard pop songs linked together with cleverly scripted dialogue links, delivered by different members of the choir. The links were brilliant in concept, content and execution as were the performances that went with them.

Choral highlights for me included Island in the Stream, Rule the World, You’ve Lost That Loving Feeling and a clever James Bond medley which closed the first half of the show. Second half highlights included Dancing Queen, Neil Sedaka’s Solitaire and Manilow’s One Voice which showed the choir off at its very best.

The second half finished with Douze Points, a number specially composed by one of the original Four Poofs and a Piano, and choir member, David Wickenham. It was quite brilliant and highlighted the fun aspects of the evening. It was followed by No More Tears (Enough is Enough) complete with arm waving and camp dancing. I love to watch men of a certain age move their bodies out of time to the music.

Brighton Gay Men's Chorus

Members of the choir were featured as soloists during the show. My favourite performance was Sadao Lieda singing What I did for love. His phrasing was beautiful as was his articulation. He kept it simple which added to the overall charm of the performance. Rod Edmonds sang a lovely version of We’ll gather lilacs. It was controlled and measured and highlighted Rod’s understanding of the subtleties of singing this type of number. David Buttery and Nic Collins’ version of Will you was haunting and reflective while Dean Cowlard and Andy Williams lifted the rafters with their soaring vocals on Rolling in the Deep. They breathed life into this number and brought the audience well on side with them. Adam Betteridge sang a beautiful, soulful version of the Neil Diamond classic Love on the rocks successfully conveying the real feeling and meaning of the lyric of the song.

The Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus have been trained into a very tight, musical force by their musical director Marc Yarrow. He has them trained to the end of his baton. They are a very, very fine singing machine. For my own liking they are short of a couple more first tenors.

I was always taught that when you smile you produce a different sound when singing. The sound the choir produced in the fun surroundings of the Sabai Pavilion was really uplifting and I left the show feel very good.  Assistant musical director and accompanist Tim Nail as always performed his accompanying role beautifully.

The choirs next show Taken from behind (The scenes) is on July 19 & 20.

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