Reviewer: Sam Lowe
Canzoni d’Amore, a beautiful title for a ravishing concert on the Lyric Theatre stage. It translates to “songs of love”, the overall theme for this evening’s musical repertoire.
Russell Watson has sold more than seven million albums worldwide, establishing himself as the UK’s best-selling classical crossover artist of all time. “The People’s Tenor”, has performed for many celebrities and tours often around the world.
For tonight’s show, Watson is not alone, he has an accomplished live band and special guests who share the stage with him. It’s more than just one song after another: personal anecdotes are disclosed, jokes are uttered, and there is the expected casual flirting asides. There is even audience participation at one point, as we sing along with Watson. This is a concert performance that has been embellished over time to become smooth and fine-tuned. It is Saturday night feel-good entertainment at it’s very best. Not only that, the concert is relaxing and gives you a chance to unwind. The suspended light bulbs, which constantly fluctuate in light intensity, are utterly exquisite.
It’s not difficult to see why Watson is an internationally renowned performer. His vocal range is ample and every area of his voice is refined and colourful. His lower notes are sonorous; his higher notes are effortless and ringing. Watson effectively adapts his vocal tone and style according to the genre of music he is singing. Lovely variations in dynamics are present throughout, so is his natural vibrato. Here is a showman with class, style, and modesty – a wave of the hand and the live music becomes more vibrant.
The first guest performers are The Musical Village Choir, who perform two songs. While there is a diversity of polished voices in the SATB make up of the choir, their performances are lacking. It feels more like a demonstration of their singing ability, consideration doesn’t seem to be given to the meaning behind the lyrics, and there is no commitment to the movements during the performance. It didn’t really feel like they were singing out to us.
The Manchester Survivors Choir were the next guest performers. A choir made up of children who survived the Manchester Arena Attack. The choir’s story is incredibly poignant and moving, they are simply an inspiration in the world of music. They have grown personally and as singers through the cathartic power of music. Listening to them, you hear their voices are powerful and glowing with passion and joy. The standing ovation they receive is thoroughly deserving.
Olivia Safe is the final guest artist in the lineup. Using her classical voice to sing a newly written pop ballad makes for a refreshing listening experience. Her gentle stage presence suits the intimacy of the concert.
One of the aims of the concert is to showcase a variety of musical genres, and it certainly succeeds in doing this. The musical genres featured include: classical, musical theatre, pop, opera, country, Spanish, folk, instrumental, and film. As the up-tempo songs are all performed at once, rather than sporadically, it feels like most of the show stays on one particular emotive level or shade. This is only a minor criticism though and doesn’t diminish the overall success of the evening.
By far, the pinnacle moment of the night has to be the performance of Coldplay’s Fix You, sung by Watson and The Manchester Survivors Choir. The lyrics take on a whole new meaning given the context, and the performance is overwhelmingly touching. It is a special moment which demonstrates the emotive, transformational, and alleviating power of music.
Reviewed on: 13th October 2018 | Image: Contributed