Music at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe can be an enlightening affair with acts swinging very much from the sublime to the ridiculous; but I’m thankful to say that ‘Happy Hour with InChorus’, which I had the pleasure of seeing on Thursday 27th August at a Greenside venue, sat very much in the former of these two camps. It was a truly sublime evening of musical magic.
And magic is the key word here, as we were seated in the Emerald Theatre – which brought to life memories of the Emerald City in the Wizard of Oz, and I found myself wondering whether we’d be skipping along the Yellow Brick Road or lamenting a horrible, horrible world!
The choir – 80 strong – stood with bowed heads before us as we entered the room, an interesting touch which pulled us into the sheer scale of the sound we were about to hear. Musical Director, Aly Skidmore, later pointed out that such a large number meant that there was one chorister for each of the sold-out audience to take home. I never found out if anyone took her up on the offer!
The opening was ‘Adiemus’ by Welsh composer, Karl Jenkins, a brilliant start to the wonderful music that lay ahead of us. As the volume rose, so too did the harmonies, echoing out across the room like beautiful melodic birds. Throughout all performances, the choir made good use of the acoustics of the room and ensured that all members of the audience, which sat on 3 sides of the four-sided theatre, at one point or another were faced head on with the stunning voices of some very talented singers.
After the exceptional opener, we were taken on a journey into that well known Happy Hour intoxication we all know well – ‘love’. Queen’s ‘Crazy Little Thing Called Love’, Pink’s ‘Just Give me a Reason’ and ‘Happy Together’ by the Turtles made us all feel warm and bubbly inside, and the choreography worked well.
Of course, one can’t get through a Fringe show without the dreaded audience participation, but this time, it was an amusing affair with audience members creating rain and the choir stamping out thunder as they broke into ‘Set Fire to the Rain in Africa’ – an inspired Toto and Adele mash up, accompanied by dancing from the Fiona Henderson School of Dance, and the jungle beats of a bodhran played by Ewan Baird. The music was uplifting, filling the room with rich, whole harmonies, leaving us breathless – which many more of the songs in the evening also managed to do.
Interpretations of ‘I Will Follow Him’ from Sister Act, ‘Imagine’ by John Lennon, ‘Some Nights’ by Fun and ‘Run’ by Snow Patrol brought glistening eyes to many members of the audience. “Is this not supposed to be a happy hour?” I thought. However, happiness comes in all forms, and, musically, one can be reduced to tears by the sheer emotion of the piece and beauty of the performance as was the case here.
But few could stop the smiles from appearing on what were, in my opinion, the stand-out songs of the evening – ‘Wanna Be’ – the Jungle Book mash up, and Scottish Medley – a mash-up of 22 Scottish tunes. From monkey tenors wanting to be like ‘you-hoo-hoo’ to sopranos and altos looking out for Donald’s ‘troosers’, the fun choreography did not take away from the brilliance of the musical direction and instruction.
We left uplifted, warm inside and wanting more. Is that not what ‘Happy Hour’ is all about? I look forward to my next cocktail from InChorus.