Put together by the creative forces of Nic Doodson and Andrew Kay, the choir is performing throughout the summer at the London Wonderground festival in Earl’s Court.
We’re big fans of London Wonderground – part of the Underbelly festival, it usually takes place on the Southbank each summer. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t happen in 2020, so we’re delighted to have it back. This year the festival is being held at Empress Place in Earl’s Court, where the organisers have faithfully recreated the festival atmosphere with various rides and attractions alongside pop up bars and street food stalls. It’s a wonderful place to spend a warm summer’s evening.
The show we were invited to review takes place in the Udderbelly, a giant tent in the shape of an upside-down purple cow which is exactly as peculiar as it sounds. Inside the tent, a pop-up pub – The Jungle – has been created, complete with stools, tables and beer on tap, with the Choir of Man as their house singers. When we arrive, the guys are busy working the pub, pulling pints and distributing them free of charge to members of the audience.
It’s a fun concept for a show – in essence, they’re trying to recreate one of the things we’re sure almost everyone has missed during the pandemic: a fun evening down at the local pub. Amongst their ranks are various musicians playing guitar, piano, ukulele, banjo and a whole host of creative percussive instruments while the guys each lead on different songs. Each man has his own story to tell, with a little poetic preamble to set the song up. It’s nothing too deep or complex but there are some lovely heartwarming moments and healthy doses of humour, too.
The men are all very strong singers, and the a cappella numbers land very effectively. Adele’s Hello is a highlight, as is David Guetta and Sia’s Titanium. These are gorgeous choral arrangements which showcase the impressive vocal ranges spanned by the men. There are silly moments, too – a rendition of Katy Perry’s Teenage Dream is brilliantly staged with some low-key audience participation which sees one of the men variously address different audience members directly with the lyrics, and some clever use of spotlighting.
There are a handful of raucous moments too, with more traditional singalong fare from Guns ’n’ Roses or The Proclaimers, and some enjoyably energetic moments of simple but effective choreography. It all comes together to provide a really entertaining night out. It’s a straightforward premise – there isn’t anything here that’s particularly unexpected or that we haven’t seen before – but the execution is excellent. What’s not to love about spending an hour at a lock-in down at your local pub with a few beers and having a fun little singalong? It’s well worth a visit.
GAY TIMES gives The Choir of Man – 4/5
More information can be found here.