A spookily good show at SMIC

Spooky Men’s Chorale, St Mary-in-the-Castle (SMIC), Hastings. August 3. Review by Hannah Collisson.

Who, or what are the Spooky Men’s Chorale? This would be the obvious first question. There is no clear answer, however they are not, repeat not, a ‘men’s group’ and the audience at St Mary’s was assured of this early on when the 16 broke into song on this very topic.

Clad in varying shades of black: one resembling a kilted Jack Sparrow; another, a French poet, the Spookies performed numbers from their exceptionally wide repertoire of original compositions (including Don’t stand between a Man and His Tool), adaptations of classics including Stayin’ Alive, and powerful Georgian choral pieces.

While many of the songs were comedic (favourites included odes to the foot, and the eyebrow), the harmonies were tight and the Spooky Men pitch perfect, casting velvet tapestries of sound into the appreciative audience.

The highlight of the evening was undoubtedly the Georgian section. As the leader Stephen Taberner said: When you think something is missing, it is probably a Georgian section.

Here the vocals were raw and powerful. Indeed Stephen was inspired by the great Georgian choirs to form the Spooky Men’s Chorale, in Australia back in 2001.

Even their most comedic numbers are sprung from these foundations, such as ‘the song you sing at 4.30am to scare invaders away’.

By the end the Spookies had the entire audience of St Mary’s joining in with ridiculous dance moves, then up on their feet waltzing. Now what ‘men’s group’ can do that?