Sunny Bank Mills is a huge complex of old Mills that have been brought back to life with spaces for companies, artists and a wonderful open space/venue for performances that is full of character. Old steel beams are on display and there’s a comfortable shabbyness about the place – perfect for a choir like this.
To celebrate the launch of their CD – Commoners Choir put together an event that was as in character for them as the venue. Catering was by the real junk food project which started around the corner in Armley, and is now worldwide – taking the good food that supermarkets throw away to produce a feast. There was a limited run of Commoners Choir Beer (that was very nice) and of course commoners cakes. Top printer Helen Peyton was on hand to make some souvenir postcards and posters.
First up was Lancashire storyteller Ursula Holden Gill – tales of spotting the extraordinary in the ordinary, mixed with the odd bit of Clogg dancing. She did 2 engaging spots, either side of Nick Harper.
Nick Harper did a blistering set “I got a bit lost recently writing love songs but I’m back on track now”. Wonderful guitar playing and a lovely rendition of ‘Breathe’
There’s a quote from Rob Cowen’s book ‘Common Ground‘ at the beginning of the Commoners Choir CD on the song ‘Commoners Go Trespassing‘ which was also in the posters Helen was printing. He read pieces from his book between the commoners 2 sets, ruminating on those spaces between towns and the country. Although his ideas chime with those of the choir – he declined the offer of singing with them…
Commoners Choir just about managed to squeeze onto the stage and sang a good chunk of the 21 original songs from thier debut CD. The Choir started with a Manifesto and ‘a singing newspaper’ is how they like to be described with topical songs about the flooding of the Calder Valley, The refugee crisis and our response to it, How the Victoria and Albert Museum in London has taken the photography collection from Bradford, Homelessness, Food riots from 200 years ago (maybe not immediately topical but there are echo’s of food banks there) and a couple of songs about members of the cabinet (hopefully not topical for long). Choir leader Boff got the audience to sing ‘When they go Low (we go high)’ – a phrase used in the recent Presidential elections which went down a storm!
A standing ovation greeted the end of their set and everyone went home with a bit of Hope rekindled in Humankind. Next stop for them is singing in Manchester during the Tory Party conference……should be interesting…..
Bob the Chiropodist