Yesterday evening I went with my mother and sister to a concert in the Queen Elizabeth Hall, London. It was probably the most enjoyable Christmas-themed musical event I can remember, featuring a wonderfully eccelectic 16-strong choir called The Shout. From an impossible mix of musical backgrounds and faiths, they are able to both do things normal choirs can’t, and push the boundaries of what a choir is. So goes the blurb, anyway. It remained to see how exactly such disparate singing styles would actually work together…
The labelless result was a very funky mix, predominantly a series of reworked carrolls and Christmassy songs, interwoven with a strangely dark and dismal set of short Christmas Day experiences (set in locations such as Alcatraz) that were ultimately positive and uplifting. The songs matched these stories with an ethereal quality, as well as a wry sense of humour such as the morosely bass tones wailing a slow, “‘Tis the season to be jolly, fah la la la lah la la la lah.”
In the second half the tales took on a much lighter tone, but the music lost none of its intensity. That is not to say it was without its missteps. A distinctly uninspired rendition of “A Very Good Year” was uncomfortable to sit through, and the a’cappella version of “Run, Run Rudolph” fell rather flat (the “electric guitar” line is there for a reason – you can’t just ignore it!). That said, even their blunders were well-intentioned and generally enthusiastically performed. And some of you will be interested to hear there was even a fully composed commercial “Twelve Days of Christmas” à la the Downing JCR forum.
Decidedly original and a pleasant diversion from the usual uninspired Christmas gaffes, The Shout are definitely worth a listen and, with their interesting staging and subtle performance art, a look too.