Brighton Gay Mens’ Chorus: Divas
A delightful start to the Brighton Fringe Festival, BGMC always put on a good show, a full on evening of fun and song. And on this occasion the theme was Divas and there were frequent references to the fact that the platform was full of them, their words not mine.
The first act started with a thundering rendition of Get Ready, a rousing start for sure but one that clearly highlighted a current misgiving that I have with the choir.
With a choir of this sort, a community choir, the remit is to work with what you have. Right now the BGMC have a rock solid section of the lower voices, a bounty of baritones and basses. The tenor two section is solid too but the tenor ones, that section so often scored to carry the melody, is less bountiful and last night reduced to five members. The resulting sound is hefty, good but deep, not unlike the sound produced by a traditional Welsh male voice choir. It suits well many pieces but last night, given a programme of pop it fell slightly short.
All this said there were some terrific numbers and some excellent arrangements from music director Tim Nail. Tim Nail is also their excellent accompanist and delivered throughout, on this occasion with no use of pre-recorded tracks.
On to the solos in last night’s programme. First though a mention for a brilliantly funny and well choreographed rendition of Love In The First Degree from Stephen Clench, James McGoldrick and Sadao Ueda. I was never a fan of Bananarama, talentless bunch of nanas in my view, but this version had me tapping my feet and beaming and was only let down by a technical sound issue. Andrew Farr gave a show stopping version of Mon Dieu as his alter ego Edith Piaf and made a few choice comic appearances in the choirs ubiquitous comedy interludes which on this occasion had some very funny moments despite one person not having learned their lines.
Jon Taylor never fails to entertain and his bonkers Bjork Oh So Quiet was great fun, he has real comic presence on that platform, sadly the vocal was oh so quiet, not him but a technical failing. Charlie Bedson gave us You Don’t Have To Say You Love Me, beautifully sung and in a version that he really made his own. I enjoy the solos but I do crave the choir tackling a solo voice backed by the full choir at some point again.
The highlight of the evening in my view, and one must remember that a review is only my view, goes to a very special performance. Joseph Christophersen gave us an extraordinary performance of the Tina Turner classic Simply The Best. Not a choir member that I recognised from previous shows but one that I will long remember. His voice is fine, unusual in tone but very effectively deployed, but it is his phrasing that really stood out, this guy can really deliver a song with style but also with a depth of understanding. He turned a pop anthem into a moving ballad and the audience lapped it up.
I loved their second act outfits where they had all dresses as pop divas, some rather too convincing and others totally hilarious, in the front row a brilliant Amy Winehouse, some very convincing Petshop Boys who remained in character and a Lulu that made me roar with laughter.
Once again a good outing from a very good choir. Personally I prefer a more varied programme than a pure pop offering, one that shows their range of sounds and talents, but a fun evening none the less.
St George’s Kemp Town