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gregorian06Christuskirche, Bochum, Germany
12th December 2011

The “Masters of Chant” were in town. Right in time short before Christmas, GREGORIAN came to Bochum for three shows (whereof two were completely sold-out) to set people into the right mood for the fest.

In the 90s, the Hamburger music producer Frank Peterson founded the band GREGORIAN. The band consisting of classically qualified English singers presents works of Pop and Rock music in Gregorian style of the medieval monks. In 1999, their album ‘Gregorian Masters of Chant’ appeared which became an international success. Then they published a new album every year, the latest one in 2011 called 'Masters of Chant Chapter 8' following the album ‘The Dark Side of the Chant’ (2010) and the ‘Best of 1990-2010’ (2011). Although they are not represented in the Top Ten of the charts, they are known by a million audience. Their recently finished tour can be counted as their most successful one up to now with more than 45,000 eager spectators. From November 2011 on, the big Christmas Tour 2011 is taking place in whose course GREGORIAN are appearing in several well-chosen churches starting in Hamburg, one of them being the Christus Church in Bochum.


The members of the GREGORIAN choir group in Bochum were Richard Collier, David Porter-Thomas (replacing Christopher Tickner), Robert Fardell, Lawrence White, Richard Naxton, Gerry O'Beirne, Rhys Bowden and Jonathan Clucas. Others who contribute to the vocals or sound of Gregorian are Sarah Brightman (under the pseudonyms Hepsibah or Sarah Hellmann), Amelia Brightman (Sarah Brightman's younger sister), Frank Peterson, and staff of Nemo Studio among others. During the live show in Bochum, the eight monks were supported by Amelia Brightman (vocals, percussions, keyboard and various other instruments), new GREGORIAN musician Matthias Meisner (stage piano, keyboard) and long-time supporter Gunther Laudahn on guitar and percussions. / /


Music & Performance
With Matthias and Gunther in the back, Amelia opened the evening with angelic ‘Ave Maria’ – and she really looked like an angel with her wonderful green dress – while the eight monks in silver glimmering black velvet robes marched in, entering the stage through the audience. Since this current tour was a Christmas tour, the first part of the concert belonged to traditional Christmas songs fitting perfectly to the ambience of the church. According to this, the stage was furthermore decorated with pine green and snow. Besides those carols, the show also offered several songs out of the new album, older hits and evergreens of the band. Probably not as dramatic and theatrical like during previous shows, the monks still presented an elaborated choreography, moving around, stepping forward and to the sides or moved in circles. Nothing was left to chance and everything was additionally underlined by well designed light settings. For me, I found that choreography a little bit silly looking and watching the monks’ faces, I had more than once the feeling they thought the same. Well, anything for good entertainment!


Even though the performance itself might not be anyone’s cup of tea, I have to admit that vocally, the fully convinced. Especially Amelia’s clear voice cause me goose bumps more than once. Not all presented songs sounded Gregorian anymore and especially during the a-capella pieces (‘Coventry Carol’ and ‘Noel Nouvelet’) the monks had to prove that they really can sing. They managed pretty well. And the extraordinary sound in the church supported their performance. But it were the cover versions of hits like U2’s ‘Pride’ or Bruce Springsteen’s ‘Streets of Philadelphia’ causing most applause. GREGORIAN is strong as a choir but also one or another solo performance could convince. That GREGORIAN is not only entertainment but also business was proven during the show when they hinted to the merch booth where anything you like, CD and also “useful” things like the Gregorian umbrella (being presented by assistant David since Christopher was not there during this show), might be purchased.


All in all, GREGORIAN proved that they can all sing and during the show, they were really spreading some Christmas feeling, supported by burning torches or a snow cannon making snow falling down on the monks. When finally Amelia whispers ‘Happy Xmas’ at the end, anyone was happy and blessed.

01. Ave Marian (Amelia)
- Announcement David Porter-Thomas -
02. Silent Night (Gerry)
03. When a Child is born (Lawrence)
04. In the bleak Winter (Jonathan)
05. Peace on Earth / Little Drummer Boy (Amelia)
06. Child in a Manger
- Announcement by Richard Naxton -
07. Pride (In the name of love) (U2 cover - Robert)
08. The Rose (Bette Midler cover - Rhys)
09. Streets of Philadelphia (Bruce Springsteen cover - Lawrence)
10. Wake me up when September ends (Greenday cover - Richard)
11. Heaven (Bryan Adams cover - Amelia)
- Announcement by Richard Collier -
12. Scarborough Fair (English Traditional)
13. Sacrifice
- Announcement by Robert Fardell -
14. A Whiter Shade of Pale (Procol Harum cover)
- Bow and off Stage -
15. Coventry Carol (Christmas Traditional)
16. Noel Nouvelet (Christmas Traditional)
- Wave and off Stage -
17. Poem (Amelia - Light Torches)
18. A Moment of Peace (Amelia)
19. Hymn (Barclay James Harvest cover - Robert, guitars)
- Announcement by Robert Fardell -
20. Happy Xmas (War Is Over) (John Lennon cover - Amelia)

Music: 8
Performance: 7
Sound: 10
Light: 10
Total: 8 / 10


All pictures by Daniela Vorndran ( / / /

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