Ocho – Review

That’s Christmas To Me, Ocho, The Trinity Lounge, George Street, Burton on Trent

This is the first event I’ve attended at the former George Street Methodist Church and I have to say it is a wonderfully cosy and atmospheric space.

As a former church the high ceiling allows the vocals to sweep and soar and a full house were treated to a sublime evening of a capella singing from Ocho.

That’s Christmas to Me took us on a musical journey with carols and popular Christmas songs that really made the festive season seem that bit closer.

From the opening with Heather Sorenson’s arrangement of Christmastime right through to the finale of We Wish you a Merry Christmas the eight piece vocal group entertained and uplifted the audience.

A packed programme of 23 songs had moments of open-mouthed wonderment at the range of the human voice along with toe-tapping numbers such as Jamaican Noel which, in the words of the song, makes you want to ‘stomp on the devil and dance for joy’.

The eight members of the group, four ladies, Soeli Bonham, Tilley Bancroft, Hannah Wilkinson and Rachel Cook along with four men, Huw Lloyd, Stuart Hannibal, Derek Gardner and human beatbox Adrian Juffs have a deep love and understanding of choral singing that shines through their work.

There were many highlights in the concert from the sheer excitement of Jingle Bells to the rousing Jamaican Noel, the chilly feeling created by In The Bleak Midwinter through to the depth and complexity of In Dulci Jubilo.

Away in a Manger brought back memories of Midnight Mass at St Joseph’s, in Derby, and White Christmas and The World for Christmas had tremendous poignancy.

My favourite of the evening, and indeed one of my favourite Christmas songs of all time, was The Drummer Boy. However, I have to say that Ocho’s rendition topped my previous favourite version by Bob Seger and The Silver Bullet Band.

All this and mulled wine and mince pies. The only disappointment of the evening was leaving – stepping out into the rain instead of the snow that the evening merited.

There is still chance to catch Ocho’s That’s Christmas To Me concert as the group are singing at Leicester Guildhall on Monday, December 5th.

If you’re stuck for a stocking filler Ocho have a live CD from a previous concert which will be available at the show or go to their website at https://www.facebook.com/ochosingers/ for more details.

Bill Pritchard.

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