The last night of PIAF and the whole of Elizabeth Quay was busy and buzzy. Despite the long haul the PIAF box office and entrance staff were charmingly helpful, (thanks Johnno et al!).
Lights were strung overhead, the outlines of illuminated city buildings could be seen and food stalls and bars were flat out. Inside the Chevron Festival Gardens the mosh pit was filling up and the stalls were full. There was a huge onstage screen with “House Gospel Choir” in big letters and soul music was pumping out loudly.
The lights dimmed and the HGC sashayed onto the stage. Lead by SheZar they made some noise but then gave way to the founder (and singer), Natalie Maddix who spoke briefly about why she created the Choir.
SheZar introduced us to band members Stevie Macon on bass, Dezy on percussion, Kadeem on keys and vocalists Mika, Sizwe, Monique, Cartell, Amadé, Chella, Laura, Kersha and herself as Musical Director. As well as the excellent instrumental crew Perth DJ Craig Hollywood was there to add to the mix.
To quote their mandate “HGC is built on the understanding that we can’t all speak at the same time and have our voices heard but we can sing together as one voice and be understood. Our mantra applies to the audiences too, who HGC lovingly refer to as the “house guests”. They are always encouraged to join in with call and response, handclapping, dancing and simply having a good old time.”
Unlike most visiting artists who fly into a city the day before a performance, HGC had been here for a week, working with 27 local singers, workshopping the music and moves. They became known as part of the “home and away” choir and were terrific, blending in beautifully with the HGC vocal arrangements.
It was a spectacular programme mixing in covers The Time is Now, God is Trying to Tell Me Something and Crystal Waters: Gypsy Woman, old-school gospel and some garage numbers for good measure.
The crew played for another hour to make it a marathon 2 hour + set. Some of the audience lacked the staying power. Those who did stay right to the end were blessed with the crew's brilliant best, a glorious cover of Disclosure's Latch which really showed off what can be achieved with harmonious voices en masse.
A joyful finale to PIAF for another year.
Chevron Festival Gardens present
House Gospel Choir
Venue: Chevron Festival Gardens, WA
Dates: 5 – 6 Mar 2016
Tickets: $40 – $45
Part of the 2016 Perth International Arts Festival