WITH utter surprise on Wednesday night, we joined the end of a rather long line outside Islington’s Union Chapel. The concert we were about to see marked the culmination of 52 performances in 49 days by the Spooky Men’s Chorale but such a queue was bemusing.
For those not in the know, the SMC consists of nearly 1500kg of accomplished male singers. After starting in the Blue Mountains (just west of Sydney) ten years ago, they’ve gone on to sell out shows around the globe (well, mostly UK and Oz) thanks to a blend of harmony, humour and unabashed manliness — a sight for sore eyes in these dark times of Justin Bieber and Jedward.
But the question remained — just who was this fanbase queuing for hundreds of yards, well before the doors opened, for a bunch of older men from rural NSW?
The answer was apparent just minutes into the warm-up act as hundreds of voices belonging to British community choirs joined together to sing kids songs by Aussie artist Kate Rowe, including the apparently well-known ‘Space Rabbits of Brocklevoons’, complete with actions.
When the Spooky Men’s Chorale took to the stage, however, the division between men and boys was clear. Launching straight into a three-part Georgian folk song, the crowd were immediately silenced by the unbridled masculinity on show.
What followed was a masterclass in music, interspersed with dad jokes and sight gags that were eaten up by the older crowd. Chorale creator Stephen Taberner was in fine form, adding physical humour to an assortment of hats and sung puns.
Song choices included covers of ‘Boogie Wonderland’ and a quaint Swedish folk song (ABBA’s ‘Dancing Queen’), as well as their own compositions about tool sheds, urinals and intimate moments with streetlights.
Thanks to the chapel’s phenomenal acoustics and participation from “aspiring Spooky Men of all genders”, the gig left a mark on many a heart.