Reporter: Phil Barr
A Handful of Songs…..Wakeylele at Sandal Methodist Church with the Sandal Singers
16th May, 2022
‘On a warm spring evening’… members of the band arrived in the large car park adjoining the church, looking resplendent in ( mainly but not exclusively) black. Carol for instance looked classy in a pretty cerise frock but not wanting to be accused of preening, settled for a place at the front of the audience where she did a wonderful job in raising morale.. I, meanwhile decided to brazen it out in a beige and black shirt and beige trousers, declining Roy’s thoughtful suggestion of wearing a bin liner. (It could have been worse as I had pondered wearing a flamingo patterned top and salmon pink chino’s before leaving the house.)
Inside the church we were ushered into a separate hall where, having once set- up, small groups were seen honing their craft, and pretending they were full of confidence. In the meantime others were shuffling backwards and forwards carrying music stands into the main part of the church along with chairs which were stacked in a smaller waiting room.
As the large clock on the wall inched round to 7 o’ clock we were summoned to our seats and the Sandal Singers began their first set of 3 songs and very impressive they were too under the professional guidance of Edward and aided by the gifted pianist, Ruth. At this point I mustn’t forget to mention Peter Agnew who wore three hats in one evening – the third one as compère, (we know he is rather partial to a mike in hand) and it has to be said that he is now a serious contender for the annual COY award along with Roy Bennett. (I understand that Roy was heard polishing his tap dancing skills at half time in order to stay ahead of the opposition but this cannot be independently verified.)
So, finally it was our turn to perform and after skilfully threading our way past the outgoing choir and into position, David outlined what the band is about before introducing ‘A Handful of Songs’ followed by Green Door, both of which went down well with the sizeable audience as did Herman’s Hermits, ‘I’m into Something Good’. We then made way for the choir’s second set and another impressive performance before, preceding the interval, we joined the choir for ‘Any Dream Will Do’ from the musical, Joseph… We then shuffled out once more but this time for the purposes of tea and biscuits; feeling quite confident after receiving enthusiastic applause from the audience. I chatted to Pop as he munched a Jammy Dodger and he felt that not only were we improving as a group but he used the word accomplished! And so with renewed spring in our shuffles we took our place in chairs behind the choir as the singers launched into a trio of James Bond theme songs. Our second set of songs began with The Springfield’s ‘World of our Own’ which went down a treat helped by a strong performance by our women’s section who all looked very smart as did the men. This was followed by a rumbustious performance of Bad Moon Rising which had the audience joining in and threatening to spill over into the aisles. Next, after David had first smoothed the path with the church audience – ‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’ which has become something of an unlikely favourite with audiences. Mags timing on the wooden blocks was simply perfection and the ukuleles weren’t bad either – in fact the only glitch of the evening came when a sound similar to that of a large mosquito filled the church just as the host choir were about to launch into ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. In fact the problem turned out to be electrical and so Queen’s multi -layered mega-hit could go ahead and was tackled with great skill by alto, tenor and bass alike and so to the finale with the choir, the band and the audience combining in a raucous rendition of YMCA. Cries of “More” rang out in a most un – church – like manner but Peter soon put a stop to that by telling everybody to go home. This had the advantage of the band being able to beat a hasty retreat before being hounded by autograph hunters or tabloid journalists hoping to concoct a story about killer mosquitos.
Thanks yet again to David especially for spending the time necessary to iron out areas of a song which he identified as needing attention, which makes all the difference. Thanks also to Peter for coordinating the event and of course to Edward, Ruth and the Sandal Singers for their hospitality and warm welcome.
Next up is a gig at Crofton WMC on 1st June followed by an appearance on 5th June on the school field at Stanley as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee Celebrations (from 1p.m).