Thanks to the popularity of TV talent shows like The Naked Choir, audiences have an awareness of the formula for choirs. This requires that voices alone generate all sounds, including those usually produced by instruments,and that the choir’s songs be mainly those with which an audience is already familiar rather than original compositions.
Support artist Jay Power begins the show by performing original scat / blues songs with guitar backing, however,this does not fit within the choir format and does little set the scene for the main act. Winners of The Naked Choir,The Sons of Pitches are a six-member male choir, comprising three lead vocalists, one bass vocal, another who acts as percussion and one who produces high pitch sound effects. The audience they attract is diverse, ranging from pre-teens to pensioners, all of whom give the group an ecstatic reception and standingovation at the end of the act one.
For someone who is not already a fan, the reason for such adulation may be missed. Although superb vocalists,The Sons of Pitches seem to perceive themselves as old-school light entertainers rather than singers, the result being the inclusion of gawky dance routines and goofy jokes.
This is not to say that they do not show off their prowess. In both acts, they invite the audience to choose a subject and a style of singing in which they will improvise a song. At The Lowry, this resultedin a song about Eccles Cakes sung in operatic style.
It is a little difficult to engage with the show on an emotional level. The Sons of Pitches choose bland inoffensive material shaped in an amusing manner, but it reduces the choir formula to a gimmick. One can appreciate the technical challenge for the singers to perform in this manner, however, the payoff is an emotional connection that is somewhat lacking.
If one can accept this limitation, then the show is tremendous. The closing of the first act in which the group rattles through a tribute to boy bands in chronological orderis fantastic. Eager to give the audience what they want, the routines performed from the television show are also included in the set.
Surprisingly,The Sons of Pitches step away from formula, opening and closing the second act with original compositions. There is a sense of gravity felt from these original numbers, which sadly isn’t felt from the covers throughout the rest of the show.
There is one thing that The Sons of Pitches excel in, and that is theirabilityto work the room. It is hard to recall another act that secures such commitment from their audience, and that overall guarantees this show is lively and massively entertaining.
Reviewed on 24 June 2016 | Image: Emilie Bailey