Culture Editor Olivia Boyce spends a wonderful evening at the Birmingham Symphony Hall with the winners Britain’s Got Talent, Collabro.
For anybody that might be even vaguely aware of TV talent shows, the name Collabro will likely ring a few bells. After winning Britain’s Got Talent less than a year ago, the band have released two albums and gone on to tour the country, playing engagements in the Royal Albert Hall, tours of America and Japan, and even the Royal Variety show – and now they are performing in Birmingham Symphony Hall.
Collabro is formed of five members – Michael Auger, Richard Hadfield, Jamie Lambert, Matt Pagan and Thomas Redgrave. This is their second tour in as many years, and accompanies their second album, Act Two. The album, which the band say was inspired by the requests of their fans, is a mixture of musical theatre classics, including ‘Memory’ from Cats and Queen’s ‘Who Wants to Live Forever’ from We Will Rock You, and covers of well-known chart songs including ‘A Thousand Years’ by Christina Perri. The tour features songs from both albums, as well as a few surprises.
At this point, I should make special mention of the support act, AJ Brown. Brown performed a half hour long set, including several original songs as well as recognisable classics, and was brilliantly entertaining. His voice is versatile, one that would be just as at ease in the charts as it would be as the vocals for a Disney prince. His range amazed the audience, and indeed there were several audible gasps throughout his set. His original songs were memorable, and the diverse styles suggest he may be a singer/songwriter to watch in future.
After Brown’s set, the small Orchestra took their seats, and there was a sense of palpable excitement in the audience. After an overture of sorts in the forms of the orchestra playing a medley of excerpts of several of the songs on their albums, the band themselves emerged onto stage, rising from below to begin with a rendition of ‘Circle of Life’. From the second their harmonies began, it was immediately clear that this was going to be a memorable and enjoyable evening.
The show featured many brilliant songs interspersed with anecdotes from the band, who had a confident yet relaxed presence on stage. In between performing various songs, including gorgeous renditions of ‘I Won’t Give Up’ and ‘Somewhere Only We Know’, they interacted with the audience, including taking a selfie as best as they could given the size of the Symphony Hall, and posed for pictures. It is clear that they care for their fans, and their reimagined version of Mumford and Sons’ ‘I Will Wait’ was a special treat, as it is a song that the band have not recorded and so was a gift for many of their avid fans.
Collabro also had a special guest in the form of soprano Catriona Murray, who joined them for several songs, as well as performing a few solo pieces. Her great operatic voice complemented the band wonderfully. Of particular note was the Phantom of The Opera medley in which she performed the haunting ‘Wishing You Were Somewhere Here Again’ and ‘Think of Me’, before the band joined her for an amazing rendition of ‘The Phantom of The Opera.’ Although each member of the band would make a brilliant Phantom, Jamie Lambert’s performance in these songs was nothing short of spine-tingling, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find him billed as the Phantom in the years to come.
They also performed several songs from Les Miserables, including the songs that led to their Britain’s Got Talent win. ‘Bring Him Home’ is a song that always evokes an emotive response, but Collabro’s version was both moving and breathtaking. Their encore, a rendition of ‘Stars’, the song that they performed in the finals of Britain’s Got Talent, was excellent, bringing many to tears, and the audience to their feet in rapturous applause.
Collabro have created something magical with their Act Two tour. Their vocals are sublime, their presence easy-going, and it showed, with the audience giving partial or full ovations multiple times throughout the show. However good Collabro are on their CD’s, or were on Britain’s Got Talent, I can assure you of one thing – they are even more astounding in person.