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Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Brighton 2010 arrow Brighton Goes Gospel in Concert
Brighton Goes Gospel in Concert
Published on Monday, 24 May 2010

Brighton Goes Gospel is a highly-regarded local institution, now entering its tenth year.  Each December they put on a Christmas show, as well as a "grand concert" for the Fringe – this year at Roedean School – which I was lucky enough to attend.

My initial disappointment at the apparent size of the stage was wonderfully dispelled when the curtains swept back, revealing truly impressive stepped banks of broadly-grinning, waving, singers.  How they’d all managed to get into place in silence was in itself quite a feat.  This grand entrance had a terrific impact, even before they sang, which (of course) wasn't long coming.

Seeing a co-ordinated group of 150 people do anything can be mesmerising, but beyond the sheer spectacle of such a group and even their singing is the power of their attitude.  These were smiling, happy people; clearly excited that the performance they’d worked so hard for had arrived.  That’s more powerful than you might imagine when there are 150 of them raising the roof.

Brighton Goes Gospel consists of two choirs, which separated out for separate performance sessions before a reunion in the finale.  The workshop choir (which is recruiting now for its autumn term, just so you know) is the less experienced, and took the first half.  Led by the magnetic presence of choir director Karen Gibson, they were superb, and the occasional tell-tale nervous glance from the choir’s ranks only served to highlight what a tremendous achievement this was.  Seeing (or rather, hearing) them do so well when they’d seemingly never before been in a performance environment was marvellous, life-affirming stuff.

Indeed, the initially-lifeless crowd was soon up on its collective feet, singing and clapping along.  This was the greatest thing: there was a very real sense of inclusion, a call of “Everybody can do this, get involved!”  Although the guest performers were clearly both talented and dedicated, it was when this “part of the gang” vibrancy took hold that it truly felt magical.

It is only natural that the a cappella numbers would be limited, given the amount of time the organisers had with the group; but these, too, were wonderful when they did come, especially from the performance choir.  The house band were also talented, effective and subtly supportive.  But there was, for me at least, an occasional sense that there was too much distraction from the voices themselves, what with all the clapping and the swaying about.  Well orchestrated, beautiful harmonies were being lost in the overall sound .  Admittedly though the soundmen had an extremely difficult task, and I hope the issues were ironed out in time for the evening performance.

These are small matters, though, in the overall scheme of the day.  Emerging from the theatre, everyone was smiling.  I felt I’d just been woken up, and reminded to embrace and enjoy life.  What more could you want?  A tremendous event.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Brighton 2010.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.