Christmas arrived early in Beeston on Saturday. A packed room singing and swinging to Wham, Shakin Stevens, Slade and The Pogues, amongst others. There were lots of singers and we had an augmented band for the occasion; Tim, Mike, Martin, Doug and Paul joined Simon for an amazing sound. And Simon was allowed to play the guitar (not a lot!). I should also mention Stuart on the ‘clicker’. How did he do that and manage to video as well? Respect, Stuart!
The warm ups got us into the spirit with a wonderful calypso rhythm for ‘Mary’s Boy Child’. I think Mike and Paul had chosen a Christmas version of a Caribbean shirt and were wearing their shirts with easy, laid back style – just like Boney M! We also sang ‘Little Drummer Boy’ (my favourite is Josh Groban’s version – but then, anything Josh Groban does is OK by me!). It’s a lovely song and there are some nice easy harmonies, which Simon and Tim gave us to sing, which added depth and emotion to the song. And Winter Wonderland is a lovely sway-along experience.
I should mention that the room was awash with tinsel, glitter and Christmas hats and even Simon had a Christmas jumper and hat – mind you, the jumper didn’t last long, with all his cavorting around!). The school hall looked very Christmassy too, so we were very quickly into the mood. I think the promise of mince pies at the break helped too.
Our four main songs were Christmas classics – Shakin’ Stevens, The Pogues, Wham and Slade – it was like Top of the Pops Christmas Special. Hmm! Perhaps it’s only me who remembers them! We even had George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley in the room, swaying along on a bench at the back. Nice of them to make an appearance.
I was interested to watch again on You Tube, the video of ‘Last Christmas’ and even though you may cringe at the 1980s hairstyles and the ‘mushy’ story line, it’s easy to see George Michael’s talent shining through, at a relatively early stage in his career.
We spent quite a lot of time on the melody and words of ‘Last Christmas’ because it isn’t straightforward. Tim was meticulous is taking us through the changes in rhythm and notes and it was really good to be able to sing the song ‘properly’ rather than just a karaoke pastiche. Anyway, we were warned that Hardip knows every George Michael song by heart, so there was no margin for error. I know I keep saying this every time I write a blog, but I am clearly the sort of person who grasps a chorus pretty quickly and then assumes I know the rest of the words. What Everyone Can Sing workshops have taught me is that it is worth looking at the words carefully, because that way, you get the true meaning and emotion. What a geek I am!
No matter how much we enjoyed singing ‘It’s Christmas’, ‘Merry Christmas Everyone’ (by our local hero) and ‘Last Christmas’, the clear favourite of the afternoon was The Pogues ‘Fairytale of New York’. Apparently, this is still often quoted as the most popular Christmas song in UK and Ireland and if you read the history of the song in Wikipedia, it was a long time being written. The title came from J.P Donleavy’s 1973 novel ‘A Fairy Tale of New York’ but there are also influences from film scores – particularly Ennio Morricone’s music for ‘Once upon a time in America’ with a bit of ceilidh in there as well. Which was an ideal opportunity for Tim to whip out his penny whistle (no – he really did!). I love to hear the penny whistle – how can you not dance? And did the NYPD choir really sing ‘Galway Bay’? Apparently not – but the Fire Service did! Phew!
We also heard about the collection for Autism East Midlands, which has reached over £1000 this year. Well done everyone!
So we all went home full of good cheer and mince pies to face the final preparations for Christmas. I wonder how many of you will be playing ‘Fairy Tale of New York’ on Christmas Day? Me me!
Have a lovely Christmas and see you in January