The audience gets whisked away to an electric musical world by extraordinary performances from the UCLU Live Music Society.
Yesterday evening, UCLU Live Music Society filled the Shaw Theatre for their opening performance of Rhapsody. The Facebook event describes it as ‘a showcase of well-known songs performed in ways you’ve never heard them before’ and the performances and arrangements did not disappoint.
The show opened with an operatic version of ‘Radioactive’. It was a perfect opening and got the audience excited for what was to come next. Will Hunkin’s vocals on ‘Mad World’ were haunting and the arrangement of ‘Someone Like You’ was wonderfully different from the original; an upbeat tempo with a vast range of instruments making a notable departure. What was particularly superb about these performances was seeing the musicians enjoying themselves as much as the singers. Minhyuk Seo was delightfully passionate on the violin, Lizzy Metcalf’s speedy piano playing was a joy to watch and it was so much fun to see the drummers singing along.
The mash-up performances really showed off the scope and creativity of UCL students. ‘Seven Dreams’ is a compilation of ‘Seven Nation Army’ and ‘Sweet Dreams’. The smooth arrangement meant for a fluid transition between the songs so that it was impossible to tell that it was originally two songs. I think the highlight for everyone there that evening was ‘Do Your Thing’ and ‘Bills’, which combined to make a hilariously fun song called ‘Do Your Bills’. This opening to the second half of the show was so energetic that I’m pretty sure the audience would have liked to have gone on stage to dance with both Phoebe Morris who sang marvellously and Simon Whitaker who came on stage dressed in a red dressing gown, dollar glasses and a twinkling green bow tie, and charmed the entire audience.
Which leads me to say how much thought evidently went into the whole production of Rhapsody. So much glitter, so many nice dresses and Rachel Paxton transported us to what felt like an underground jazz club and then to an arena with her excellent lighting.
I loved the inclusion of videos from the Bloomsbury Sessions in between the live songs, allowing the audience to have something to enjoy while microphones were moved around the stage. It was a great opportunity for talented singer/songwriters to showcase their original songs and these acoustic pieces made for a dramatic change from the heavily produced live arrangements. Special mentions must go to Luke Powers for his brilliant soft vocals and to Freddie House whose song had a country sound to it that made me want to get up and line dance. While these videos were a fun inclusion, they did at times drag on longer than they needed to for a set change, making the audience restless, eager for some more live music.
There were a couple of technical glitches, but these were soon fixed and the audience forgot about them as they were whisked away to an electric musical world by these extraordinary performances. ‘Strawberry Jam’ was raw and fun to watch as the guitarists’ fingers danced madly across the frets. The ‘Tribute to Prince’ was a thoughtful addition and as for the rendition of ‘Shake It Off’ at the end – well, I’ve certainly never heard anything like that before. So head down to the Shaw Theatre tonight for an enjoyable evening of old songs made new.
Photo Credits: Dante Kim and Rachel Lim