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Arts and Entertainment | 22nd July 2022
 

Spooky Men: a capella quirkiness

 
 
 

By Sheena Harvey, Castle Bytham, Lincs

A collection of ten men singing unaccompanied about their eyebrows does not seem like a recipe for an entertaining evening. That’s probably what you’d think if you’d never come across the Spooky Men’s Chorale. This a cappella choir, originating in Australia in 2001, has toured the UK since 2006 with their unique show (Covid lockdown years excepted) and this summer came to perform in Langholm on July 5. The Chorale has a loyal and varied following – as demonstrated by the number of people who raised their hands in the Buccleuch Centre to confirm they’d seen them on stage before. The disorderly arrival of the singers, wearing an array of headgear inappropriate for a concert hall, was the moment the rest of the audience became aware they were about to embark on a voyage of discovery.

The Spooky Men’s repertoire is a blend of quirky original music on subjects such as a man’s favourite body part (his foot, in case you wondered), evocative Georgian and Ukrainian folk music, and moving and/or amusing interpretations of classic songs such as The Beatles’ And I Love Her – you can watch this, and their unusual rendering of Abba’s Dancing Queen, among others, on YouTube. The unlikely musical bedfellows followed one after the other quite naturally, with the choir alternating between deadly seriousness and music hall slapstick, arousing a range of emotions in their listeners.

Musical Director and composer, Stephen Taberner, kept tight control of the harmonies with elaborate hand gestures and rhythmic foot tapping, while at the same time entertaining and involving the audience with his rambling introductions to the songs. Despite pointing out the gulf between those on stage and those watching, Taberner gradually bridged that gap and drew everyone into active involvement. By the time it came down to it, we were so bewitched by the antics and beautiful voices of these strange singers that clapping time and singing along to a song you’d never heard before seemed quite appropriate. At the end of the concert the loud applause and thunderous foot stamping for an encore showed how far we’d fallen under the Spooky Men’s spell.

 
 
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