The first in a series of four concerts organised by the Gladstone Group to celebrate the tercentenary, took place at the historic St George’s Hall. The concert room which seats over 500, saw the concert goers clapping throughout with a standing ovation at the finale. The show commenced at 7:30pm and prior to entering, Ian Sanderson was busy collecting tickets and issuing free programmes to the concert goers. Also present purely to support and enjoy the evening was group chairman Bill Culshaw, group vice chairman John James and Derek Parkinson APrGM.
The concert compere Nicholas Fry (Nick), is the manager at Chester Cathedral and is also a trained actor. He has appeared on TV in Coronation Street, Hollyoaks and Emmerdale. He has also acted on stage in various towns and cities around the country.
Nick proceeded to deliver a series of excellent humorous festive poems as well as acting as compere. The opening act, Liverpool Show Choir, 26 beautifully dressed songsters led by the equally lovely Ros Jones, musical director. They began by singing three numbers, standards like ‘Hallelujah’, traditional Christmas carols and even swayed as they sang Slade’s Merry Christmas everyone.
Although not a professional choir, they sang in perfect harmony, a tribute to Ros’s talent. The show was uniquely presented by a reading from Nick followed by three songs from the choir. Nick’s poems included Bruce The Spruce, a poem about a lonely spruce tree who felt forgotten for many years but eventually found that he had been groomed to become the Christmas tree in Williamson Square. A hilarious poem called ‘The 12 days of turkey’, a reference to how we all have too much turkey at Christmas, a fact we all concurred with. The full version of the 19th century poem, ‘Twas the night before Christmas’ and many others, delivered like the true professional he is.
As the concert room in this fine building, completed in 1854 and designed by the young architect Harvey Lonsdale Elms, was often frequented by Charles Dickens who described the concert room as: “The most perfect venue.” Dickens read his short stories from the very stage, charging just one penny for admission, in those days it was known as The Penny Reading Room. It was therefore fitting that Nick emulated the great author by reading a short piece from arguably one of his most famous stories, ‘A Christmas Carol’.
Following a short interval which many took the opportunity to make there way downstairs to the bar, the show continued in the same vein. Nick giving a short reading between numbers from the headline act, the extremely talented, Richard and Adam Johnson who perform as Richard and Adam. The duo are classical singers who hail from Hollywell in North Wales. They are best known for their appearance on Britain’s Got Talent in 2013. You may remember that they were supported by their nan who stood next to Ant and Dec in the wings. Nan was also present on the night, as supportive as ever. Back then they managed to finish third in the grand final.
Their debut album, The Impossible Dream, topped the album charts for four weeks in 2013. They will be back in Liverpool in February, starring alongside Susan Boyle at The Empire Theatre. After performing many great songs from shows like Les Misérables, they ended their act. However, the audience clapped so loud and called out, more. The boys returned for an encore, to the delight of everyone, it was the much loved Nessun Dorma.
At the close of the show the crowd gave them a well-deserved standing ovation. Richard thanked the audience and the staff at the hall. He also thanked Ian Sanderson, group secretary, who assisted by a small committee, had put the whole package together. The Liverpool born impresario Bill Kenwright, could not have done a better job. It was obvious that it had been a great success, enjoyed by all and hopefully raised a significant amount of money for the MCF 2021 Festival. Ian is now busy working on plans for the second in the series of concerts. It is hoped that it will be staged in late spring 2018. Details will be forwarded to all lodge secretaries and chapter scribes, once details are confirmed.
Article and photographs by Phil Marshall.