LAURIE CHEN reviews UCLU Live Music Society’s production of ‘Rhapsody’.
At first glance, the word ‘rhapsody’ conjures up visions of ecstasy and the heady feeling of being swept away by an emotional piece of music. Perhaps this is precisely what UCLU Live Music Society wanted to achieve with their landmark production, which brought a host of talented student performers to the Bloomsbury Theatre for an evening of musical extravagance. Creating a musical event that a) appeals to all tastes and b) showcases the sheer diversity of musical talent at UCL was never going to be an easy task, but the Live Music Society, director Jin Lee and producer Rubin Patel certainly managed to make their ambitious plans into a reality.
The evening’s programme included several crowd-pleasing covers of pop and rock anthems from acts such as Muse and Florence and the Machine, which were interspersed with original songs from the society’s YouTube Sessions. Projected onto a large screen at the back of the stage, these professional-looking music videos featured UCL singer-songwriters performing their own original material. A few particular highlights included ‘Give Me Love’ by Mark and Juniper, ‘Nothing at All’ by Sarah Q (who reminded me of a young Laura Marling), as well as two folk-influenced songs from the talented Dylan Trenouth, who has been featured elsewhere on SAVAGE.
However, the spotlight fell on the several live acts which kept up the sense of energy and momentum throughout the show. For instance, a small band of very enthusiastic rockers dominated the first half with their bombastic covers of Muse classics such as ‘Uprising’ and ‘Hysteria’. The second half saw a more diverse array of acts, such as a suavely arranged James Bond medley featuring lush orchestration from the live band and three singers (Lizzie Jay, Heather Barnish and Thomas Benoist) who exuded a palpable sense of 1940s cabaret-esque glamour.
Other notable highlights of the second half include the Duelling Guitars set performed by Denis Shtefan and Leo Kelly-Gee, who demonstrated their technical virtuosity on the acoustic guitar to the audience’s delight, and an interesting a capella cover of Imogen Heap’s ‘Hide and Seek’ by the members of INKA (Rubin Patel, Josh Cooter, Johnny Stewart and Miles Russell). The singers perfectly captured the sincere vulnerability of Heap’s original version, adding in some subtly placed synth beats for good measure.
All things considered, the live performances were undoubtedly what made Rhapsody so special; it was a joy to see all the singers and instrumentalists assembled on stage during large-scale renditions of ‘Sweet Disposition’, ‘Viva la Vida’ and ‘Dog Days Are Over’. In the latter, lead singer Lizzie Jay’s soaring vocals and remarkable stage presence led the show to a suitably triumphant conclusion, earning a well-deserved standing ovation from most of the audience members. By the end, it was certainly impossible not to get carried away by the performers’ infectious enthusiasm and evident passion for music, which will hopefully return in an even bigger and better form at next year’s production.
Rhapsody was performed by members of the UCLU Live Music Society at the Bloomsbury Theatre on 16th Feb 2015.
All photos credited to Sue Hartley.