E4 Udderbelly: Vocal Orchestra
Judging by the name of the show, it’s not clear exactly what kind of act the Vocal Orchestra at South Bank Centre will be. Anyone with preconceptions about what was to come wouldn’t have been expecting anything quite as startling and impressive as the Vocal Orchestra.
As it is being hosted as part of E4’s Udderbelly Festival, ticketholders might expect that the tone is light-hearted and playful; that’s about 80% correct. Though what the audience gets is hardly primetime pop music; the things that these guys can do with their vocal chords was strangely hypnotic. There were chokes and gurgles, gulps, gags and the sound of pealing bells.
The seven voices of the orchestra worked in unison and with some intricate harmonies to create the whole backing track for songs like OutKast’s “Hey Ya”. As a newcomer to the whole concept of a choir without voices, I don’t really have much basis for comparison – and I’d even be doubtful that there are other groups that deliver quite the same experience. Either way, the crowd were treated to a thoroughly entertaining show.
It must take an awful lot of practice and some throat-contracting gymnastics to emit the types of tonal sounds the Vocal Orchestra’s spectators were exposed to. The crowd enjoyed the performance from what I could gather; the children sitting a few seats along for me were enthralled from start to finish and I watched them try to make their own Vocal Orchestral when the show was over. The show is a great one for families, or just anyone who wants to hear something a little out of the ordinary. Luckily, there’s more to come.
E4’s Udderbelly Festival is running at the Southbank Centre until 8th July 2012, with daily performances from Vocal Orchestra. Tickets available here, from £16.