17 September 2004
Theatre review Soweto Gospel Choir Princess Theatre, Torquay
As a act that has travelled half way around the world to perform at UK venues like the Princess Theatre, I joined the audience in having high expectations for the Soweto Gospel Choir.
As a band of top-notch singers drawn from the churches and communities of South Africa’s most famous township, the group mixes earthy rhythms with rich harmonies to uplift the soul and express the energy of South Africa.
Since its emergence at the beginning of 2003, this extraordinary group of talented singers has achieved major success both overseas and in South Africa, and their performance in Torquay was no exception.
The group have performed with Michael Jackson and for Nelson Mandela and you can see why they have achieved a level of success and fame so fast.
With a basic set, the brightly dressed singers let the music speak for itself.
With 11 languages in South Africa the performance drifted from regional songs to national anthems and back to English verse in a well oiled smoothly polished production.
All songs from the broad spectrum including Xhosa, Zulu and Sotho were met with energy and charisma from the well drilled and disciplined group.
Thanking God for their talents, regardless of religion, even the most hardened of atheist couldn’t help be moved by their impressive vocal performance.
As the show progressed the audience found it increasingly hard to sit still through songs like Paradise Road and Ride on Moses.
Traditional lullaby Thula Baba was superb and the arrangement of Amazing Grace really showed what the group could do.
By the time Happy Day came along the auditorium resembled something like Last Night of the Proms with the first standing ovation I’ve seen at the Princess Theatre for a long time most richly deserved.
Under the sturdy direction of David Mulovhedzi this troop would be welcome to make a return to South Devon theatre any time.
The Soweto Gospel Choir played one night only at the Princess Theatre, Torquay and now continue their national tour performing tomorrow night at the Grand Opera House in York.