“Everybody needs a little time away…from each other”
Simon Gordon, Benjamin Purkiss and Patrick Sullivan can boast 30 years’ experience in the West End and beyond and all spent some time in Obsidian as part of Bat Out Of Hell, so their teaming up together to form vocal group The Songsmiths makes sense. Their album Tenors of the West End, now available to download, draws on a wider range than Shaftesbury Avenue though – the mention of Chicago more likely to refer to soft-rock than Kander & Ebb.
This focus on pop-rock staples over musical theatre yields some fascinating results. There are no real surprises in terms of song choices, but there’s no denying the exhilaration of hearing Fleetwood Mac’s ‘Go Your Own Way’ receive such a full-bodied treatment as this, so too with their meatier rendition of A-Ha’s classic ‘Take On Me’. The arrangement of ‘Hallelujah’ wisely keeps it out of mawkishness and some interesting harmonies emerge out of ‘Somebody To Love’.
The only pure musical theatre moment comes with a tender take on ‘Memory’ which, once you’ve got over the movie-based trauma that kicks in when the overture begins, is rather lovely. But in all honesty, by the time that you’re reminded of what a tune ‘Hard To Say I’m Sorry Is’ (oh, to be able to listen to it in a car with the roof down…) and you’ve shaken a tail feather to ‘Proud Mary’, you’re not missing the theatre at all, even as they sneak in a late callback to Bat Out of Hell.