Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour

We've spent much of today and yesterday prepping for our exciting Stateside adventure. There's a shedload of admin and creative work which you always tell yourself you have to achieve before going away. Ultimately if I don't finish the first pass of string arrangements for Em before tomorrow, the world will not end. In fact, the album won't even be compromised. I'll simply get back at the start of September and continue where I left off. But there's that bizarre psychological nagging sensation which suggests that a holiday can't be enjoyed until certain utterly arbitrary barriers have been smashed to the ground.

It would appear to be my birthday today. I feel like I've been celebrating for so long now that I have birthday fatigue. We went into town this evening to watch Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour, which is sort of being billed as an ELO musical. It is, however, far from being a conventional juke box show. For starters, the script is by Lee Hall, which obviously elevates it above the tosh which Ben Elton haunted the West End with in the early naughties.

It's really a play with songs: one of those ensemble pieces which the Royal Court did a lot of in the 1990s where a talented cast play a revolving door of roles and make sound effects with their voices often into hand held mics.

The piece is set in Scotland and tells the story of a group of girls at a dodgy Catholic school who have quite the adventure whilst on a trip to sing in a choir competition. At least that what it appeared to be about... The narrative moved so speedily that it could well have been a giant metaphor for something else which entirely flew over my head!

The six girls speak in broad Scots dialect and swear like troupers. They sing in glorious harmony. I mean utterly glorious. It is a long time since I have heard such impeccable and such versatile singing. The tuning was spot on. The performers seemed as adept at singing wistful head-voice madrigals as they were in the field of pop and soul. And my GOD, some of them could belt! It was a genuine vocal masterclass. I was so so impressed.

The ELO songs were brilliantly arranged, and it was a royal treat to hear them. They felt a smidgen crow-barred in on occasion. I'm not sure Mr Blue Sky can adeptly fit itself into any uber-narrative, and, at one stage, they were forced into using that time old cliche "and then the DJ played my favourite song." Cue song! I wondered how much better the show might have been with songs which had been specifically written for the project. But then I found myself looking forward to hearing the way that the cast were going to perform the ELO songs I know and love. I was therefore a little torn. Almost as torn as my lip, which I managed to cut by holding my ticket in my mouth whilst I washed my hands. The ATG tickets are made with a sort of shiny, yet curiously porous material, which turns into glue when wet. As it took it out of my mouth, it took a layer of skin with it!

I was also slightly perplexed at the decision to run the show without an interval. An audience always starts to panic when they're in a space for more than an hour and a half without a break.

But honestly, it's well worth a watch. A genuinely creative piece of theatre which ought to be applauded.

I thank all of you reading this who have sent me birthday greetings tonight. I shall enjoy reading them all before bed!

...oh yes, I lost my cash card this morning and spent about an hour frantically searching for it. Imagine my shock and horror when I glanced at the washing machine and saw it spinning round and round in the window with a couple of fivers! Brings a whole new meaning to the phrase money laundering. The fivers have completely vanished but the card is alive and well. Actually it's still functioning as a contactless payment method! 

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