Reviewer: Julia Taylor
A concert by the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain is a very enjoyable occasion.It’s not just the happy-go-lucky style of the musicians but the humorous interjections in-between.
In reality, the apparently laid back attitude of David Suich. Peter Brooke Turner, Hester Goodman, George Hinchliffe, Richie Williams, Leisa Rea, Will Grove-White and Jonty Bankes is anything but. For it involves a lot of hard work in linking the eight different instruments. It is something which, in most cases, has taken thirty years to accomplish. The exception is Bass player Jonty Bankes who has only been with them for 25 years!
A supreme example is when they, by some miracle, manage to play and sing many different songs at the same time – and make it look easy.` For instance, For Once in My Life is combined seamlessly with tunes such as My Way, Born Free, and others.
Another is a variation on a theme by George Formby as they perform When I’m Cleaning Windows in a variety of different styles.Their performance of the theme tune to The Good, The Bad and The Ugly after the interval is impressive.
Their singing together is equal to their Ukulele playing and, on one occasion, they even sing without accompaniment – and you can hear every word.Each member has a chance to shine singing fantastic solos.
In turn, they also display the virtuosity of their mastery of their much maligned instruments demonstrating their skills on Soprano, Concert, Tenor, Baritone and Bass instruments not to mention the tiniest of ukes jokingly described as a fridge magnate from which Will Grove-White coaxes out a fantastic sound.Their jokes – often horrendously bad – are horrendously good for that very reason.
At the end, the orchestra receive a deafening round of applause but the standing ovation goes to Thomas Boardman, almost 96 years old who built a ukulele out of red cross boxes and strips of wire when held prisoner in Changi jail during World War II. He entertained prisoners and guards alike with his prowess on the instrument. His home made uke can be seen at the adjacent Imperial War Museum North.
Reviewed on Sunday, September 13