ConcertMusicNorth WestReview

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain – The Lowry, Salford

Reviewer: Matt Forrest

For most of us, a Sunday evening requires something quite soothing in order to see off the weekend and prepare for the drudgery of the working week ahead. For some, it may be the Antiques Roadshow, whilst for others, a middle England TV crime series will do the job. Some may feel that The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain would fit into this category, however, that would be doing this super talented troupe of musicians a severe disservice: because any show that kicked off with punk classics, Anarchy in the UK and Psycho Killer certainly can’t be a middle of the road night out!

The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain have been touring the globe for 34 years, even performing for the Queen at her 90thbirthday celebrations. Based on tonight’s performance, you can certainly see why the group’s appeal shows no signs of waning any time soon.

With a set comprising of tunes from the likes of Blur, Hawkwind, Grace Jones, Clean Bandit, Tchaikovsky and of course the Godfather of the ukulele, George Formby you knew you were in for something special. Throughout the course of the night, the eight-piece band demonstrate not just superb musicianship, but also what fine voices they have with each member taking up solo vocal duties.

In addition, there is a huge amount of comedy in the show, with the group showing a comedic flare with silly stories accompanying some songs all told with a dead-pan delivery that the late Leslie Neilson would have been proud of.

This is a show that has something for everyone, from 80’s electronic through to classical, folk to rock and roll. The undoubted highlights were a rather cheeky retelling of Bob Dylan’s I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight, with the song transformed into a traditional Transylvanian vampire love song.  Whilst a mash-up featuring songs from Cat Stevens, The Pussycat Dolls, The Eagles, Roberta Flack, Frank Sinatra, and folk Brain and Michael, all anchored by the music of George Fredric Handel is as outstanding as it is bizarre and is the perfect snapshot to what the group are all about: talented musicians, doing something unique and fun with songs and music of all genres.

This was a fun, easy and inoffensive evening that hit all the right notes. On the basis of tonight’s show, you can’t help but wonder what songs other songs will receive the Ukulele treatment when they perform next time around.

Reviewed 28 April 2019 | Image: Contributed

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The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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