Classical review: Gareth Malone 2015 Tour, Edinburgh

Gareth Malone. Picture: Mark Johnson
Gareth Malone. Picture: Mark Johnson
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There was a touch of tour-weariness in this penultimate concert of Gareth Malone’s 19-date UK tour, but there’s no doubting the country’s most famous choirmaster’s love of singing.

Gareth Malone 2015 Tour | Usher Hall, Edinburgh | Rating ***

His “choir” in this instance were Voices, 16 talented young singers, many with the potential for solo careers.

Malone ranges wide for his material whether it’s Taylor Swift’s Shake it Out, which opened the show, or Scotland’s own James MacMillan’s O Radiant Dawn, underlining his keenness not just to entertain but to educate.

For instance Naomi Banks’ beautiful performance of Laura Mvula’s Sing to the Moon and James Blake’s Retrograde, sung by Nick Shirm with Robin Baily beatboxing.

The common thread is that all the repertoire lends itself to rich harmonisation. While the Voices are extremely versatile, the vocal agility wasn’t quite there for Eric Whitacre’s complex Seal Lullaby and the sound balance was uneven in Ed Sheeran’s I see fire from the second Hobbit movie.

Highlights were the King’s Singers’ superb arrangement of Toto’s rhythmically-driven Africa and Dire Straits’ moving response to the Falkland War, Brothers in Arms, along with last year’s All Star Choir No.1 Children in Need hit Wake me Up.

Demonstrating his belief that everyone can sing, Malone auditioned the audience for a “tone-deaf” singer, in this case Norrie, whose voice was magically transformed to deliver a pitch-perfect version of the carol Once in Royal David’s City.

Blowing away people’s disbelief in their own vocal potential is perhaps Malone’s greatest gift.