Collabro @ Symphony Hall, 2nd November, 2017

In a time where music moguls are pulling the strings, surely a group of youthful lads from Britain’s Got Talent couldn’t be successful without the guidance of some hot shot producer? Well since last year they’ve said goodbye to Syco and been on a tour with Sir Cliff Richard, gigged in Japan and Canada and in March 2017 created their first album with an original song on it. Their support was evident as the trusted fan base of Collaborators turned up at the Birmingham Symphony Hall this evening to see the polished four piece Collabro.

The sold out show began with the fruitful Philippa Hannah accompanied by her husband on drum box and percussion. With a huge catalogue of support slots, the 33 year old from Sheffield stamped her silver sparkly boots all over the Symphony Hall with songs like “Happy In My Skin” and really showed her versatility in “Arrow” and subtly hit the high notes when “On The Wagon” turned into “Amazing Grace” in the home of the finest acoustics in the UK.  In each song the lyrics were honest and religiously inspired and I really buy into Philippa’s journey, but the book plug could’ve waited for the interval. Anyhow the book is called “Following the Breadcrumbs: A Journey from Darkness to Light Through Everyday Miracles.” If you hurry now there’s still 21 dates to see Philippa Hannah.

Four silhouettes waltzed onto the dark stage, or was it five? No that was back in the Syco days when Richard Hadfield was a member. And I’d like to say they missed him, but they really didn’t. It was another evening of covers, as the boys launched straight into the power ballad “This Is The Moment” led by Jamie, the very capable singers really captured the sadness of the song.  Matt was prominent in “Beauty And The Beast” which was accompanied by falling petals. “Journey To The Past” had great harmonization and was a fresh variation. The little tiffs between songs were generally entertaining as we learnt about the groups rockstar lifestyle, driving on a limo bike to get to a Cliff Richard gig.

The special guest, a lorry driver’s daughter from Mansfield was one of the many perks of this evening. Soprano Carly Paoli whose  fierce version of “Ave Maria” has been adopted by the Vatican for their Holy Year Of Mercy was a absolute delight. Her versions of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” and “Somewhere” accompanied by Collabro were well delivered but a bit too safe. Straight after Carly had finished “Rain On My Parade” set the way for The Phantom Of The Opera’s “Music Of The Night” and a melody of “Les Miserable” show tunes with a dreamy “Bring Him Home” to take us into the interval. There was another awesome partnership tonight with Collabro and the Bournville Young Singers for a stand out performance of “The Circle Of Life” after the interval.

I was apprehensive to see the four piece tonight. To see if they have finally put the Jack Pack similarities to bed. But I am please to report they are finally doing something creatively different.  There were still pop covers in the set list like “Mumford And Son’s “I Will Wait” and Sinatra’s “That’s Life.”But after the break we were treated to Collabro’s first original song “Lighthouse” with a backdrop of fans singing the lyrics behind them which was moving. After that we were treated to more Musical songs but the tempo was lifting after “For Good”from Wicked and the infamous “Stars.”

The red suits were out for a Jersey Boy Tribute to finish the show and as soon as the well choreographed routines started the crowd went ballistic. The loyal contingent were grooving out the door to “O What A Night” and “Who loves you.”

A thoroughly enjoyable musical treat for all ages, I hope the boys carry on with the collaborations and create album no 4.

Reviewer: John Kirby

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