The Wallbangers bounce back

REQUIEM IN BLUE ***

USHER HALL, EDINBURGH

THE composer/performer Harvey Brough gathered an impressive line-up for this self-indulgent extravaganza, including the Dunedin Consort, saxophonist Julian Arguelles, jazz singers Gina Rae, Niki King, Jacqui and Alex Dankworth - the children of Cleo Laine and John Dankworth - and his own 1980s sensation, Harvey and the Wallbangers.

The centrepiece of the concert was Brough’s Requiem in Blue, dedicated to his brother who died in a motorcycle accident. It featured the aforementioned talent, apart from the Wallbangers, along with 200 children from Inverurie, Paisley, Dunkeld and Edinburgh schools.

Brough’s setting of Latin texts on top of folk and jazz standards was a bold move; for instance the Introitus et Kyrie was set against Black is the Colour, while the Sanctus was overlaid with the children singing the traditional song Flow Gently Sweet Afton. There were occasional moments when this unusual combination worked, but these were rare. Overall, the different elements tended to vie for the attention, resulting in a unbalanced and confusing mixture of styles. The one high point was schoolgirl Cathy Scott’s lucid reading of an extract from Lee Hall’s Spoonface Steinberg, which provided a much-needed focus for the music.

Far more moving and powerful was Brough’s I carry your Heart set to a text by EE Cummings. This was a poignant and mellow offering set in a traditional fashion and beautifully sung by the Dunedin Consort. It conveyed more meaning in four or five minutes than the long and rambling Requiem.

The brief individual sets by the guests didn’t work, with the jazz-style presentations at odds with the formal atmosphere of the hall. However, Brough’s foray into the early music world with Clara Sanabras in Danca Da Solidao by Pailinho da Viola was superb. Sanabras has an exquisite voice and plays the archlute and baroque guitar with aplomb, and this highly rhythmical and melodic piece was a delight.

Disbanded in 1986 and re-formed for the occasion, Harvey and the Wallbangers showed they’d lost none of their sparkle or wit in a slick set of popular numbers.