I went, with my husband Danny, to see G4 in their Christmas By Candlelight concert on Wednesday 23rd November at Lincoln Cathedral which was part of their UK Cathedral tour.
It was a magical venue for such an event, with the spectacular Cathedral Nave and it’s ornate ceilings and architecture, we couldn’t fail to be excited about the evening, and who doesn’t love a few Christmas Carols.
The first of a few disappointments I need to mention about the evening started with the programme, since starting to write reviews I usually don’t mind paying the price for the souvenir and the extra information it provides about the artists, venue and other events, and when the Cathedral staff offered what looked like a large booklet, I happily paid out the £4 requested. On opening the programme imagine my disappointment when I received a 3-fold printed cardboard sheet, 6 sides. 2 pages were photographs, 2 pages which were the verses of the carols for us to sing along to, 1 page of the next years tour and 1 page about the history of G4 and how they’ve got to where they are currently. A bit of a let down to say the least, with no programme, or individual photo’s of the group, or biogs etc. although the quality of the printing was lovely.
The experience started with a very large, gleamingly bright white lighted ‘G4’ lit up at the front of the stage which G4 stood in front of, unfortunately as the cathedral was so dark with the lights dimmed, you actually couldn’t see G4 hardly at all standing in front of the lights; we were sitting in row BB, so quite a way back, and had to look around rather than directly at the stage. This was rectified after the interval where they had obviously received ‘complaints’ (although it felt a bit staged 😉) as they made a point of switching on flashing multi-coloured chaser lights for a few moments before turning them off… shame it wasn’t done earlier in the show!
I hadn’t realised that part of the show would be the audience joining in with the carols, but it was a nice touch when we can all now say we’ve sung with G4 – I’m not sure if many other people experienced this or not, but a few people sitting near us obviously though it was a bit of a free for all, and were joining in singing, quite loudly, while G4 and their guests were performing. It really spoiled it for me, so if you are one of those that like to join in, please consider those sitting nearby and don’t sing or chat!
One more negative before I go on to the positives (of which there were plenty), was the quality of the sound overall. I’m not sure if G4 actually had mikes, (editor update – reviewing the video at the end more closely, there were obviously head mikes in use) but there were certainly no speakers near where we sat that we could hear, so I really struggled to hear the words and every little shuffle, and cough/murmur from the audience around us (not even mentioning the loud singing) detracted from the performance.
So now to the good bits – G4 are still as brilliant as I remember them being 12 years ago when they were runners up in the first series of X-Factor. Despite going their separate ways in 2007 with Jonathan Ansell, Ben Thapa, Mike Christie and Matt Stiff going on to take the lead in many roles on the TV and in theatre and solo tours and albums. Since reuniting in 2014 with a new Bass, Nick Ashby, as Matt decided not to rejoin the group, they have performed in many international venues and exceeded all their own personal expectations of what the reunion might bring.
Their renditions of ‘Amazing Grace’, ‘O Holy Night’ and ‘Away in a Manger’ were all beautifully moving and started my Christmas Season off with a few tears in my eyes… I have memories of quite a few Salvation Army soloists singing ‘O Holy Night’ including the wonderfully talented Brian Dixon from Bedlington, where I lived in the 1980s – I know that this particular carol, and the millions of performances of it, have touched many people over the years.
G4 had advertised a request a couple of months ago for a young person to send in a video of themselves singing, with each local winner to join them on stage in their Cathedral concerts, to sing the first verse of ‘Once in Royal David’s City’… I passed the message on to one of the Jesus Christ Superstar singers, but the singer selected was a 9 year old, Alex Marriott, who delighted the audience with his first solo verse. He then joined the group later on and performed ‘I’m walking in the Air’ from The Snowman, this was also received with tremendous acclaim from the audience.
Also on stage a couple of times were local choir, All For One. They advertise that to join them, you don’t need to be able to read music or be experienced. As a choir they perform many of their concerts in association with various local and national charities. They leave people feeling uplifted re charged and empowered for everyday life. They performed a few songs really well, and joined G4 for a couple of final numbers which certainly left us feeling quite uplifted.
The charity that G4 were supporting in this tour was ‘Missing People’ who do a fabulous job, and at the end of the performance, volunteers were waiting near the doors to receive our donations. The choir included a wonderful performance of ‘Fix You’ that really brought the message home of family not being nearby at Christmas which really is a powerful message for those of us with family nearby.
If you want to have a sneaky look at some of the concert, including the lovely ‘O Holy Night’, have a look at the following video link with G4 at Lincoln Cathedral