After being asked to review Jazzmanix’s Winter Concert, the university all-abilities gospel and pop choir, I was a little nervous to say the least. There is a thin line between good music (a mix of acapella and band accompanied songs which show off everyone’s talents) and bad (a performance riddled with pitchy voices). This, was luckily the former, a bright and happy interlude to an awfully rainy November night.
Sitting towards the back of the packed Turner Sims theatre surrounded by students, staff and the public, I thought that there would be times when my view of the stage, and the sound quality, would be restricted in some way. Yet due to the brilliant staging and the sound team, there were only a few minor mishaps which you would expect on a first night performance. Apart from missing a few of the Musical Director Naomi’s jokes, I found myself both content and relaxed throughout most of the performances. There were a few moments where members of the choir didn’t seem to be as happy-go-lucky and upbeat as the rest but this was probably a result of stage nerves. Apart from this, and one or two instances of out of tune solos, the show went on. The rest of the time, I couldn’t keep a smile off my face if I tried.
Small acapella groups played during the first half, proving that you don’t always have to save the best until last. All of the groups managed to hold their own, yet there were those who shone: the first being Deep Harmony whose first tune, ‘Breakfast at Tiffany’s’ by Deep Blue Something started so beautifully, making me feel nostalgic and in that moment I knew that things could only get better.
And they did. Evie and the Praisens stood out immediately, not only due to the fact that Evie is a one woman talent; conducting, singing, and later directing the entire choir, but also due to their enthusiasm whilst singing, especially during ‘Wade in the Water’ where the male vocalists managed to break the line and freestyle sway to the music, completely immersing themselves in the beat. The best voice of the group, in my opinion, was, however, not showcased enough. Promi should have been applauded for capturing the attention of the entire audience with her Joss Stone-esque voice which simply blew me away.
During Jazzmanix’s versions of ‘On My Own’, ‘The Journey’, ‘I Just Can’t Wait to Be King’ and ‘Black or White’ I found myself wishing I was up on the stage, supporting or singing with them all. So far in my university experience it’s been hard to find something which makes me think to myself ‘why didn’t I sign up for this at the bunfight? How do I sign up now? And how do I manage to tell everyone I know about this?’ If I’m honest, I would go again, but I think that that might seem a little too eager…
Tickets are still available from Turner Sims Box Office for tonight’s performance at 7:30 and I would definitely recommend it, both for the singing, and the experience of supporting fellow students. At £5 a ticket, it might be cheaper than the pub and there’s a bar just in case you get thirsty in the interval!