REVIEW: INSPIRATION AT LEEDS TOWN HALL: ‘I’LL BE THERE FOR YOU’. July 2014.
JUST as tugboats are small and yet pack a huge punch compared to their sleeker, larger cruise line counterparts, so too the mighty Inspiration singing group continues to be more than a match for larger, choral ensembles.
It might be their recent New York tour which has done it, adding a touch of sassiness to their collective singing psyche, but the Leeds and Newcastle group seem to have even more gusto this year.
Leeds should be rightly proud of this ensemble which never fails to delight, and in tandem with the flawless Orchestra of Opera North, they turned in perhaps their best performance on Sunday night at Leeds Town Hall.
Singing themes based on TV tunes, and hosted once more by the ever sophisticated Liz Green, the ensemble surpassed themselves on this balmy evening, even opening delightfully to jazz hands and the lively theme from The Muppet Show. Even Kermit was on hand.
Performing songs from familiar programmes such as Blackadder, Friends, and Birds of a Feather they demonstrated all their usual power – all the more amazing as they sing for nigh on two hours without prompt sheets.
But they upped their game even further when performing the theme tune to Mr Bean – the lovely Ecce Homo; Vivaldi’s Gloria which was performed with all the power and strength of any larger ensemble, and Howard Goodall’s hauntingly lovely theme from the Vicar of Dibley, based on the Lord is My Shepherd (Psalm 23).
But without a single doubt, the knockout performance of the evening was the soaring, moving performance of the theme from the equally affecting series Band of Brothers with a solo by Penny Wilson which had the audience standing at the end.
On the strength of this performance alone, and with the cleverly chosen tv-inspired catalogue, which hopefully will be repeated, Inspiration’s viewing figures at this superb setting deserve to rise and rise.
They also perform in Newcastle/Gateshead backed by the Royal Northern Sinfonia. The musical director is the effervescent Gary Griffiths.
This cleverly engaging grouping is one to watch – and as they might say in New York, Muppets they ain’t.