Thursday, May 1, 2008

To The Left, Oi!

Onward, ever onward

As we ventured further North into a land that looks nothing like South Wales, I found myself becoming more and more inculcated into the culture of Spookiedom.  It was not an unpleasant series of sensations.

In the beginning, I had worked from what records exist of the Spooky Men's music. While repeated listenings had shown me much of the noises of which they are capable, it was not until I was among them on the stage that I realised the depth and complexity of their knowledge and training. Even a ditty as simple as a traditional Swedish folk song (surprisingly popular for so arcane a choice of repertoire) incorporates complex dance moves, (such vigorous leaps and turns), along with many more subtle physical touches. I came to think that it could well be the physical complexity of the Spookies' performances that draws people to them in such large numbers. The group moves as one -  like an enormous jungle cat with 24 legs and a head shaped like Stephen Taberner.  Black, silken perfection, a mass of rippling muscles under velvety skin. Has there ever been a more perfect human form?

But the Spooky's show is not all boogaloo and tushy-rattling. At the heart of the Men, as with any chorale, is of course the power of the (human) voice. And here too, the Spooky Men bring together an enormous array of skills, a reflection perhaps of their diverse backgrounds. Whether they be cubicle warblers from the darkest forests of the land know as "public service", or musical hermits, descended from their mountainous realms to share their awesome talents, every Spooky Man has a voice.  Any one of them is capable of slaying the savage critic-beast, but together... Together they are like the Fantastic Four merged with the Famous Five - strangely unbeatable and at the same time, delightful to like at. To hear them is to become certain that, at some point in our culture's deep, dark past,  Jerry-Lee Lewis and the Vienna Boys Choir did manage to produce offspring.  

Don't Keep It To Yourself

So comfortable are they with their awesomeness, the Spooky Men are prepared to share their seemingly boundless skills.  While ever-mindful that with great power comes great potential for extra income, they gather willing acolytes to their enormous collective bosom.  Their deceptively entitled "How to Sing Like a Bloke" workshops cross all-known boundaries of musicality, gender and taste. It is perhaps not too extreme to say that a Spooky workshop is a musical experience like no other.  It is perhaps not too extreme to say that as a group, the Spooky Men's Chorale should be elected president of the world.  Some may accuse me of hyperbole, but I do not consider it an overstatement to say that the Sing Like a Bloke workshop in Bangalow on April 23rd of this year, represents the highpoint of human artistic achievement to date on this or any other planet.  (I will concede I was rather tired at this stage of the tour).

Together we squeaked, we warbled, we moaned.  We yearned, we longed, we strived.  We waved, we gestured, we cajoled.  All together we shimmied.   As one we slunk.  We came together in every sense that is decent and good.  We sobbed for the past and screamed for what might come.  We vibrated, giggled and wept.  We chanted, we stomped and together we sang.  All in an hour.  If nothing else, we represented extraordinary value for money.

The Darker Side of the Men

And yet, there is need to rest when the row you hoe is a hard one. Beyond the hubbub and glamour of life on the stage, lies the quiet time, the time for contemplation and rest.  These are times when the men who are quintessentially spooky also find solace in simple pleasures, such as laughing together over warm Milo, or simply returning to their roots and holding hands in the dark.

There were many such times on this journey with the Spooky Men.  I will leave you now, dear reader, to ponder what these times might have been like, before I return soon to conclude this tale of bo-diddly.

One spooky man.

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