Saturday, February 03, 2007

Music is the message- part 2

We went to see the London Community Gospel Choir in Wakefield yesterday.

I have previous form on Gospel. About 20 years ago I went to see the New Jersey Mass Choir on spec at the London Dominion Theatre, as a poster outside made the point that they had been the backing singers for Foreigner's I want to know where love is (vid here). What I didn't expect was a full-blown Negro Spiritual with preachers, Hammond Organs, Cassocks, Praise the Lord!!!/Allelujah!!! interjections and dancing in the aisles. It was strange and a little bit scary feeling like an interloper (there were maybe 4 white faces in the capacity crowd and there were coach parties from all around London) but the music was superb and it was good fun, even if I wasn't moved enough to testify that night. The other annoying thing was, they didn't sing any of their secular hits. Whenever I watch the Blues Brothers, I'm reminded of that night in the James Brown big Gospel number.

So, I hoped that I wasn't dragging David and Karen to a similar event and it turned out my fears were unfounded. I had got hold of a cheap LCGC CD on Amazon a couple of days earlier and whilst I enjoyed it, I felt that the sound was a bit thin and the arrangements twee. However, that was an early recording and they have come a long way since then.

LCGC are now the de-facto Gospel TV choir, performing on Circle of Life (Disney's Lion King), Madonna's Like a Prayer at Live8, the Love actually movie and even backing Ben on X-Factor. There about thirty of them, but they don't tour a choir that big.

The stage was set with a Grand Piano, a Roland Keyboard, another keyboard behind the piano and ten Mic stands, tastefully back-lit in blue. The front row had five, the back row four and there was a solo mic at the front.

The show started (15 minutes late) with Bazil (actually the Rev Bazil Meade) on the Piano and Ayo, the Musical Director behind him. The choir consisted of nine singers, all dressed in red tops apart from Wendi, the Director who both sang and conducted from the front row. (Wendi, Bazil and Ayo were dressed in black).

From four bars into the first number I was captivated. Basil was a cracking soul pianist and the singers had a rich layered harmony where the voices blended seamlessly into a cogent powerful whole. It was loud, smooth and increasingly funky. It was hard not to clap, or indeed dance along to the up-tempo numbers.

It wasn't preachy but there was a message- Gospel unites all.

David wasn't entirely certain if he liked them, but he did like the T shirt, which reads:-

not a black thing
not a white thing
not a colour thing
It's a gospel thing

Why does he like it? The T shirt is black with white text but gospel is in orange, his favourite colour.

Go out of your way to see them, they are highly recommended (by me) and you won't be disappointed. Tour dates here!


Welshcakes Limoncello said...

It sounds really energising and exciting!

Ian Grey said...

Even young David has been singing "oh, happy day!" without noticing...