“This is not, strictly speaking, a love song, although it does remind me of my ex-girlfriend.”
We’re but a few minutes into the February the 14th matinee, and as they kick into a cover of the Talking Heads - Psycho Killer, natch, The Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain have further convinced an already adoring audience. An audience rapt by tales like the one about having to come up with a new song for consecutive dates at the Monsters of Rock festival and the Sidmouth Folk Festival and taking the economical, some say lazy, route of using the same one – Pinball Wizard done as a sea shanty. I sat through that one like a slack-jawed yokel who’s just seen his first double-decker bus.
I could go on, and I will for a bit.
Le Freak – what a string-driven groove!
Happy – surely the preferred version for all right-thinking people. New life breathed into something that everyone’s back teeth are heartily fed up to.
The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly – glorious version, heavy on vocal effects (also includes expert, faultless whistling).
Smells Like Teen Spirit – for added fun, find the video on YouTube and clock the outraged comments from po-faced Nirvana fans.
Teenage Dirtbag – crooned oh-so sweetly.
Get Lucky – Complete with stunning farmyard noises section. See also Happy/back teeth remarks (above).
And many more… including high comedy interplay onstage and a healthy dose of good-natured audience-teasing.
Do I have one minor beef? Well, it’s funny you should ask me that. They’ve got a couple of tremendous numbers in the locker, firstly, Fly Me Off The Handel, in which Handel’s Harpsichord Suite in G Minor plays host to Fly Me to the Moon, Where do I Begin, Killing Me Softly, Autumn Leaves, I Will Survive and Hotel California – and ultimately all at once too, in a thing of such beauty and brilliance that you wouldn’t have believed it possible – here's the video:
Anyway, they quite rightly rebuffed my offers to write the setlist.
The second one takes the old tale about Life on Mars being written in response to My Way, and builds in similar fashion with For Once in My Life, and builds with Substitute and builds and, well, you’re better off watching it for yourself, so here’s a link...
“We don’t do requests,” thus began the intro to the final number, but it turned out that they’d actually been requested not to play this song, which, when they steamed right into it, was a fitting and perfect end to 2 hours in the genial company of these acerbic, subtly anarchic up-enders and sender-uppers of any format you care to mention, or might get too precious about.
By the way, indoors, lovely fire going, pyjamas on, wine at the elbow, and Midsomer Murders on telly, all by 8PM. The campaign continues to have all concerts take place in the afternoon.
You won’t regret finding out more about the mighty Ukes here http://www.ukuleleorchestra.com/