Acapella Voices Festival at the Black E
Sense of Sound, Connie Lush and Barbieshop
Twenty four hours on and I’m still in awe of the amazing show of acapella singing put on last night at the Black E arts centre by Liverpool’s Chinese Gate by this brilliant bunch of people.
The evening started off with the wonderfully quirky barbershop trio Barbieshop. Gorgeous, funny and supremely talented, the Barbieshop girls started off with a rendition of Sandman against a background picture of them dressed as 1940s sexbombs. All predictably leading to a modern day take on the Andrews Sisters, right? Not on your Nelly!
The girls moved on from Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy in a style that owed more to Bette Midler than Glen Miller through to a rather lovely version of the Beatles’ I’ve Just Seen Your Face, via Birdhouse in your Soul and the most inspired, hilarious performance of Radiohead’s Creep you’re ever likely to see. I don’t remember ever seeing an audience being so enthusiastic about a support act. They were even brought back for an encore of Queen’s Crazy Little Thing Called Love, which they belted out with equal measures of surprise and gusto.
So on to the main attraction, the Sense of Sound singers. Like me, you might have seen Sense of Sound on BBC1’s Last Choir Standing back in 2008. Last night’s performance was a tribute to Joni Mitchell, an artist I’ve previously only had a limited acquaintance with. Before setting off, I went through a mental checklist of Joni Mitchell songs I know. “Right, there’s Big Yellow Taxi. Er, that’s it.”
It turned out that I actually knew more of Joni’s songs that I knew. Sense of Sound started their set with a soulful version of Woodstock before splitting into smaller groups for Little Green, the Native American inspired Lakota and The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines. Three of the SoS women gave a bluegrass-feel performance of Mitchell’s Blue that left one fella near me in an extremely excitable state. I’d never heard any of these songs before, but they’ve all stayed with me and I’ve been youtube-ing them since. You should give it a go.
The show was interspersed with snippets of films and voiceovers from members of the group including Directors Jennifer John and Perri Alleyene-Hughes that talked about everything from love, music and spirituality to environmental issues in an introduction to a completely joyful Big Yellow Taxi.
The Sense of Sound singers are like the pots and pans I used to drag out of the cupboard [when I was young] – Perri-Alleyne-Hughes
But the absolute highlight of the show for me was the gorgeous A Case of You, which was sung by five of the choir up above us on a balcony. It was so beautifully done that we had collective tears welled up by the end.
I’ve always been awed by choirs. That a bunch of seemingly ordinary looking people can make such beautiful, spiritual music completely overwhelms me. And Sense of Sound do that so well, you should really, really seek them out.
I can’t finish this without talking about Connie Lush. Me and Connie go back many, many years, although she probably has no idea about it. I used to go to see Connie at every chance I got back in the heady days of the early 90s. My boyfriend at the time would come over in such paroxims of delight and her raw, bluesy voice that if he’d left me for her, I’d have given him my blessing.
Connie came on last night to join Sense of Sound for their final song, Both Sides Now. Typical of Connie, every single word sounded as though it had been carved in her heart and ripped out raw. Connie, if you ever read this, I loved you then and I love you now.
The Voices Festival continues the weekend and finishes on Sunday 18 March at The Bluecoat Hub with The Big Sing. Get yourself down there if you can.
The Voices Festival http://culture.org.uk/2012/03/14/voices-festival-the-countdown-begins/
Sense of Sound http://www.senseofsound.org/
Connie Lush http://www.connielush.com/