Tuesday, 4 December 2018

Thames Concert - Christmas starts

A lovely evening in Surbiton, as part of the Thames Concerts series, a long-established SW London musical tradition (nearly 60 years young!)
In the delightful surroundings of St Andrew's Church, we sang our first Christmas concert of the season, accompanied by Ben Costello on the piano, and Mike Pratt on bass guitar.

...and here we are (rehearsing)!


A great acoustic in which to share our music too... variety as ever... from Gaudete! to White Christmas & Greensleeves (What Child is this?) to Let it Snow; with a few non-Christmas diversions such as The Beatles, Billy Joel & German-speaking yodellers... it was all there!
Great to give Christopher Steel's Our Joyful'st Feast another airing, as these three songs deserve to be more well-known.

Mike and Ben supported us splendidly and the evening was a great success.
Thank you, Ben for the invitation - it was a huge joy.

Lovely to have Carol Jones and a great many of her friends in the audience, helping make it such a festive occasion; as well as the ever-supportive Carole Sterckx watching, and selling our stuff.

Christmas continues for us with a central London cabaret spot - invitees only, I am afraid - from thence to Belgium for concerts with Chris Hatt at the piano, and then just before the day on the 22nd & 23rd in Heusden-Zolder with choir and orchestra... hoorah!

Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Touring Germany

Four contrasting dates in Germany kept us busy last week.

We are now being joined rather more regularly on the topline by Billy Purefoy, which is a splendid idea... (his biog. is on the website, should you wish to know (a bit) more...
...my spellcheck wishes to rename him Billy putrefy, but I digress... (not a nice thought!)

First stop was at Burgwedel for a Full English Brexit - we were treated splendidly (as we were for the whole tour... great food every time!)
We are very grateful to Maggie and Julian Forsyth for helping us make our wordy FEB show more helpful to a German-speaking audience.
Including a great new song about the amount of English words in German, which the people loved... a lot!
A wonderful audience forgave our discussing Brexit, and even laughed and applauded (at apt moments).

Then it was a Madrigal to McCartney concert in Oldendorf, where we sang in a beautiful church, and were attended on by a wonderfully attentive group of people... we were lucky that they wanted their first ever concert to go very well... and we were spoilt!

We were even chalked up outside the church...



We gave the world première of our arrangement for four voices of Et Misericordiam from Bach's Magnificat - marvellous alto & tenor duet - Bill and Chris obliged, Mike sang the bass... and I did everything else!

In our hotel, we found proof of the enduring link between singers and (p)faffing about (geddit!?)



Then it was on to Frankfurt-Höchst, and back to Brexit... Our fourth visit here - they must be gluttons for punishment!
Old friends Carole & Birgit were also in attendance, splendidly & did  a very good job of selling our CDs and music-books!  Great to have them both with us.


Here we are relaxing after the gig, or is it, after relaxing after the gig...?

For the last night at Biberach - another FEB show - we were joined by pianist, Ben Costello - he accompanied us in some Christmas concerts in Belgium last year & we are doing another Christmas concert with him this year on December 1st, as part of Thames Concerts... a festival which Ben is the Artistic Director (do come along, if you're near London!)
Lovely to have Ben with us again.
Lovely also for the hotel bar to be open 24 hours... marvellous... German beer (and for some wine) was enjoyed immensely

We had a little snow on way back to the airport... not any problem, but this sight at alarm-clock time did feel a little concerning....!

Thursday, 3 May 2018

Zédel joys

Wonderful evening in Crazy Coqs at Brasserie Zédel...
Full English Brexit had another outing and an enthusiastic crowd joined in the fun.

A delightful venue for those who do not know, and such a splendour in which to perform - Art Deco all over the show!

We were joined by old friend, Bill Purefoy on the topline...I say old friend, in fact, he was in the group 1992-3... so a wee comeback after just a quarter of a century.  Fabulous to have him back, still huge fun and of course with a beautiful voice... hoorah.
...and also we had Chris Hatt on the piano - having taken a night off from MD-ing Hamilton; lovely to see him again after a while (as he has been a busy busy boy!) & to have him accompany us with such brilliance.

Many old fiends in the audience, which obvs. was lovely; special mention to two people... my old friend Colin Warnock, who came to hear us sing one of his songs (She's Gone - with lyrics by Martin Tyrrell, mostly rewritten as They've Gone); and Lotti Viola, who came all the way from Vienna... now there's dedication!


Friday, 13 April 2018

Central London gig

Full English Brexit! ...comes to 'Live at Zédel'... 7PM on Thursday 26th April.
Tickets here
Come on, you know you want to!

We had a great evening at The Abbey Theatre, Nuneaton in February, and look forward to further sharing our Full English Brexit with more of our compatriots.




Friday, 19 January 2018

Full English Brexit !

People of Nuneaton (and surrounding areas) - Abbey Theatre, Friday 2nd February at 7.30...
Come and have fun!

Having started in the Pheasantry, Chelsea just before New Year, we gave three try-out performances in Belgium of Full English Brexit...
...and delighted to say that the shows went down very well.

We started with a 2PM show at Deurne, then two evening performances in Boechout and Herent.
At all three we were returning to venues we've been to before and it was great to be back.
For these shows we played the piano ourselves.... well Mike and Chris played most (and I - Mark - did a bit)... which was a very interesting experience... and people were very complimentary about it all; certainly it is very good for the brain to do the show in such a way!
So with music about Agincourt (written in 1415), Beer-drinking Britons, and the History of the European Referendum; and by Beethoven, Walton, Noel Coward, Flanders and Swann, Neil Sedaka, Paul Simon and Stephen Sondheim (as well as some by ourselves), we explored Brexit in a musical manner...

We ended with our song... Sorry... and then Dudley Moore's Goodbye-ee - tho' very much hoping this is not a finality!

We did meet some old friends at these concerts, who were also reassuringly positive... hooray... we look forward to carrying on this journey around Europe later in the year.

Breaking Up is Hard to Do... but we'll keep travelling around Europe and singing all about it!



Tuesday, 9 January 2018

Belgian Christmas and Full English Brexit begins...

It's been a while... forgive us!

Lots of lovely Belgian joy before Christmas
Tervuren was the first...and it was glorious!
We played tenor 1 tag for these gigs before Christmas - Chris sings in York Minster & was told he really had to attend his two Nine Lessons and Carols services... (he did have to satisfy the 1000s of people who turn up to these); thus we had the opportunity to bring Steve Trowell out of retirement (he left in 2001!)...
So Chris did Tervuren and the next gig... Aalst, Steve joined for Koksijde & Hamont-Achel, then Chris came back out for Oud-Turnhout.
Those guys did a lot of travelling...
For most of these gigs we were joined as ever by our excellent sound and lights man, Koen Dilliën... he makes it all look and sound so splendid... Thank you!
We also had a new pianist for the shows... as Chris Hatt is rather busy London-premiering, Hamilton - very exciting (he says he can get us some tickets in 2021 !).  New piano friend Ben Costello joined us for these gigs... what a good chap he is... watch it Chris H., you may be stuck in the Victoria Palace Theatre for the rest of your life!!

After it was all done - with Ben C...(and lovely Belgian beer)


For those who do not know, we have been joined for the greater part of 2017 by our old friend (and founder of the group!), Richard Bryan... he filled in at short notice (and stayed!) when Sarah-Ann got her awful sickness bug during her pregnancy... all good now (and Olivia exists - hooray!); but that is why we are back to an all-male ensemble... watch this space for future developments - tho' rumours of Richard's pregnancy are really exaggerated.

With Steve T & Richard (& Ben!)



All the Belgian experiences were splendid, we have got rather used to this sweet Christmassy time we have in Belgium each year... even if it was difficult to even see the sea through the mist at the seaside at Koksijde... my wife's presents were, as ever, mostly bought in BE.
Food was good - and indeed Belgian beer... Achel beer was fine and dandy
Here is the church with it's shadow against the low-sitting cloud after our gig in Hamont-Achel (and a 1999-2000 reunion!)


Then Christmas came...and went; and it was time for a quick sojourn at the Pheasntry, Chelsea, for Pizza and singing... for these gigs we were joined by jazz pianist Simon Wallace, as we gave our Full English Brexit a first run-out to the unsuspecting people of Pizza-land.

Everyone was lovely and we had a great time... and people even laughed in the right places, and said that they enjoyed it... whatever next!?

Another pleasure was that some people from Schwerin in N.Germany came over especially to London for a post Christmas trip, so as to catch us at the Pheasantry, and the fireworks on the 31st... how splendid...

So a busy and excellent December was done; as was 2017...
On into 2018 with FULL ENGLISH BREXIT... in Deurne, Boechout, Herent in Belgum this very week... AND not forgetting Nuneaton (Abbey Theatre - 2nd February...7:30PM)


Sunday, 10 December 2017

German tourette

A return visit to the splendid small town in Germany, Pirmasens...
Once again bringing Christmas cheer to people in the new Arts Centre there.

Three nights there... and lovely it was.  We were looked after splendidly - hotel, food on tap etc -  & people were very kind, even when we mentioned Brexit (tho' some sniggered!)

Delightful to be joined on the last night by German agent Peter Martin Jacob & his husband, Sasha...

Here is the Town Hall Advent calendar - a glorious European tradition:-


In the bottom left-hand corner you can also see the top of the wonderful crepe stall, which served me the excellent After-Eight Crepe (hyphen is their addition) - glory!

Then it was north to Hamminkeln for a concert in a church - with such a fantastic acoustic... marvellous it was... A lovely Festive atmosphere, with two great friends, Carole & Birgit in the audience, along with newer friend Stefan.
Organisation terrific and attentive.
Hotel was also terrific, tho' we had to leave it very early - getting up at 6.25AM... probably normal to many of you, but pretty dawn-ish for me!

Now we prepare for our Christmas concerts in Belgium... home on Christmas Eve!