[MUSIC ~ SA]
Plant 4 Bowden, Sat 29 Jun.
There is a case to be made that music is in fact religion. Back in Ye Olde Times, the only way most people heard music was at their place of worship where the transformative power of music, and that of combined human voices, was uplifting, life affirming and mind blowing. It was ‘heavenly’ and organised religion thought, “Hang on, this singing and music caper has a lot of…power doesn’t it? Best we be having some of that!” If you’ve ever sung along with your favourite bands big hit at a massive show, you’ll know what I am on about. There is absolute tribal joy in the combined vocals of humans singing together. If you have any doubts, Gospo Collective show and you will sing Hallelujah.
It’s been a big year for Gospo Collective, following a successful run of Jackson Vs Jackson at the 2019 Adelaide Fringe, and stomped it as a major part of Groove Terminator’s House 5 parties. Now with the help of Musical Director Chong Lim AM (Kylie Minogue/John Farnham & Olivia Newton-John) they have delivered an amazing selection of music from seventies supergroup The Carpenters, although a majority of the sixty-strong choir were not even born when the Carpenters were putting out records. In their time they were the most un-hip, squeaky clean, unthreatening, family-friendly act of the seventies; they were like the Brady Bunch of pop and yet they were massively popular. The combination of Karen Carpenter’s remarkable voice, Richard’s deft skills both as a musician and producer, using multi layering of their vocals, they created a lush and glorious sound that can feel like you are in a swimming pool filled with warm honey on a summer day. Although many of their biggest hits were cover versions it is the arrangements themselves set them apart.
For over two hours Adelaide’s Gospo Collective – whose ages range from four to thirty plus and more, deliver an utterly glorious programme showcasing some incredible solo vocalists, beat boxers, and a massed vocal choir that is out of this world. Chong Lim AM on piano and a nicely understated four-piece band provide a perfect framework for the songs, but let the choir do the heavy lifting musically. From big hits to fan favourite’s every song is delivered with perfection, joy and love. Lead vocalists change from song to song and the combined talents of three full choirs lead by Charmaine Jones (The Jones Juniors, The Jones Chorus and The Jones Commentary) provide a layered and magical canvas for a remarkable programme, delivering songs like Close To You, Rainy Days And Mondays, Goodbye To Love, We’ve Only Just Begun, Sing (Sing A Song) and There’s A Kind Of Hush. Sometimes songs are expertly mashed into medleys and, in the case of Superstar, dropping in some sneaky elements of Jameila’s recent R&B hit of the same name.
Part of the attraction of Carpenters’ records, even in the ‘happy’ songs, is a sadness and melancholy in the delivery that hits you in the feels. A Song For You by Leon Russell is an aching lament of a lost love, and Hurting Each Other is sublime in its pain and beautiful in its longing. A highlight for me was the magnificent version of Calling Occupants Of Interplanetary Craft, a song they recorded only one year after the original Klaatu version came out in 1976. It’s a complex arrangement and the full Gospo Collective (close to ninety people on stage) and the vocals create the full orchestral palate without a cello in sight.
With such a young cast, it was a good move to not focus on the tragedy behind The Carpenters’ musical journey that brought their career to an early end. The night ends with an audience sing-along to the buoyant Top Of The World and a well-deserved standing ovation.
Special mention of the venue. Plant 4 Bowden is usually a food hall, but they transformed the space into a groovy art space with great atmosphere. Top marks all round.
Superstar: The Carpenters Story continues at Plant 4 Bowden, from 4.30pm and
7pm on Sun 30 Jun.
Book at TryBooking.com. Click HERE to purchase your tickets.
Images courtesy of Ian Bell