Brighton Gay Men’s Chorus: In Time For Pride

In past reviews of this excellent choir I have had mixed feelings about the comic interludes that pepper their performances. But last night I had no qualms about them at all. This time around the thread of sketches was cleverly used to display a line of LGBTQ+ history, using the idea of Doctor Who and his TARDIC, yes you read that right. The doctor took his young friend on a journey through time and place that highlighted adversity and achievement wonderfully, a timely reminder that we have much to be thankful for and at the same time there is no place for complacency.

The evening was also given in tribute to two young men who in the last few months were taken far too soon. At the end of the first part the BGMC were joined on the platform by the Actually Gay Men’s Chorus for a stunning performance of Run, a real hairs on the back of the neck moment,  which was not only a fitting tribute to these young men but also to the sense of brotherhood and community that exists between the city’s choirs.

Under the baton of their new Musical Director Joe Paxton the BGMC are achieving new heights, there is a depth to their vocal performance now that is truly impressive, a tightness to their timing and above all a real sense of joy that not only shows in their singing but also in their faces. They are glued to Joe Paxton as he conducts and the result is better than impressive, even bringing a new weight to their lighter choices of pop numbers.

The evening opens with an a capella delivery of camp classic I Am What I Am rising hauntingly from the dark recesses  of the church before the choir process to the platform to complete the song. Then from the gallery Andrew Farr  launches into the poignant Streisand classic Before The Parade Passes By, appropriate for a programme about pride, and used here to book-end the show. Farr’s voice is wonderfully powerful with a rich vibrato, but it the dramatic heart with which he instils each line that is really impressive.

BGMC always have an amazing array of solo talents, from the soaring range of Nick Ford, through Alan Dorrington-Lock and Chris Farley’s duet, Andrew Williams rich vocal, Graeme Clark’s assured and moving performance, Rod Edmunds’ dramatic Sondheim number and finally Sadao Ueda’s sensitive and tellingly pure rendering of True Colours. All of these choices forming a core to the evening of moving lyrical works. The choice of the ensemble works for the evening moved from the truly cheesy and fun to the darkly impressive. I particularly loved choir accompanist Tim Nail’s Wrecking Ball that turns pop into a choral masterpiece and definitely shows the choir at their best, and I loved his arrangement of David Bowie’s Warzawa featuring a haunting solo line from Chris Baker. The accompanying slides of gay icons was definitely impressive but sadly for me the audience response of cheering and applause rather spoilt the musical moment. It was of course appropriate applause so this is not a criticism of that, but I hope to hear them perform this again as it satisfied a desire in me to hear this exceptional choir push themselves even further, something I sense Joe Paxton is ready to do.

21 September

St George’s Kemp Town

Andrew Kay


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