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January 20, 2009

The Shout

The Times (London):

Ten years old this month, but still flush with the sheer cheek of what they do, Orlando Gough's ragbag choir have been blowing out the candles with gusto. They took on a whole week of programming at Kings Place, capping it with this winningly indulgent night of personal celebration. The greatest hits tour, you might have called it, were it not impossible for this group to perform anything with a sense of reverence: they're far too in the moment.

Perhaps ragbag choir isn't the best way of describing the Shout, but it does sum up two things they represent: choral singing without the stuffiness. In place of most choirs' obsession with tweezering the blend, their members come from multiple places in the musical map, ranging from pop to soul, music theatre to opera. What they all share is a brilliant sense of musicianship, combining staggering discipline (everything is a cappella, everything is memorised, everything is in tune) with an exhilarating willingness to dart off in unexpected directions.

This showcase gave us the best of their versatility. One moment the group were absorbed in the febrile heat of Mike Henry's percussive Song for a Dark Girl, the next they gathered in a Gaelic threnody, Grioghal Cridhe, with Rebecca Askew the pure-voiced soloist. Theatre infuses but never smothers their vocalism: in Galeas, a Greek-Ladino lament for the enslaved, the group spread out disconsolately, breathing out the strains of a slave's labour before two singers gave full cry to the melody. But, just when you think it's all gone a bit worthy, the Shout gamely bring on a duet sung with the text entirely back to front: loopy, but oddly compelling.

It's touches such as this that remind you that the Shout isn't just about sound: when they sing, they do it with an immediacy that almost lets you touch a song as well hear it. Here's to ten more years.

Posted by acapnews at January 20, 2009 10:28 PM


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Posted by: Foernescierge at February 16, 2009 9:58 PM

They are truly the best

Posted by: jac at April 3, 2009 2:48 PM

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