As a mega fan of both Queen and The Hallé (not to mention the magnificent Bridgewater Hall in Manchester), it’s no great secret that this has been the one thing I’ve been looking forward most to this year. And by Jove, it didn’t disappoint!
The performance was essentially former leading cast members of hit musical ‘We Will Rock You’ (Alex Gaumond, Rachael Wooding, Jenna Lee-James and Peter Eldridge) reuniting on the stage with one notable and fantastic inclusion, The Hallé Orchestra, conducted by Richard Sidwell).
I’m going to start on a positive and really hammer home just how fantastic The Hallé were – from the incredible sound that they produced through to the spirit of their members, who were all dressed in various Freddie guises – with special mention to the chap in the yellow leather jacket and white pants on the horn towards the back who was spotted having a fantastic time when not playing and using his instrument as an air guitar – I salute your fantastic spirit! (also the guy with a banana hat, who had a little snack during the encore!!).
I know I keep saying it, but I strongly thought The Hallé made this show. I like to think that I know a fair bit about musical theatre, as obsessed and experienced as I am, however I wasn’t a huge fan of the musical theatre element to the performance. The singers, whilst all fantastic in their own right, really didn’t use their vocals to their best capability given the performance space and often came across as shouty and, at one point, painful. In the theatre I have previously raved about all four, but in a concert environment, the showmanship and vocal control felt like they were lacking somewhat.
Not sure what happened during the interval, but there were some definite sound issues with the microphones during the first few songs of the second half, with the often absent sound engineer presumably at fault (no idea why he kept disappearing at crucial moments).
In terms of the venue, I absolutely adore The Bridgewater Hall, though do concede it can be a little difficult to find your seat at times – it’s genuinely a warren of seating levels and with no real guide to which entrance you need to use to find your seat.
I also found myself sat behind three awful people who seemed to think it acceptable to lean over/on to the handrail instead of sitting back in their seats like everyone else which meant I couldn’t see a lot of the first half from my limited position in the side circle. They were also chatting quite loudly whilst doing so, and I salute the couple I made friends with sat next to me, who challenged this rude behaviour during the interval (I backed them up, of course!). Thankfully the three drunks didn’t return to their seats after the interval.
Back to the show, and there was a rousing George Michael / Freddie Mercury tribute towards the end which actually made me cry. Somebody to Love is one of my absolute favourite songs on the planet and it was so unexpected but I hold no shame!!! 😉
All in all, a great performance, though I do think that The Hallé were the real stars of the show.