Collabro and Carly Paoli
by Nigel Watson
Collabro – credit to Collabro
Last weekend, Collabro made a triumphant return to Plymouth Pavilions, exciting their local fans and impressing those new to their music. They came to nationwide prominence in 2014 by winning Britain’s Got Talent, and since then they have gone on to release three chart-topping albums including their latest ‘Home’ under their own ‘Peak Productions’ record label.
Philippa Hanna, accompanied by percussion supplied by her husband, started the show with a selection of her own compositions. Linking them, she described how she suffered at school because she was in a quirky show business family, and how her songwriting has helped her overcome being a target of this wounding abuse. Her lyrics have strong religious themes, but are delivered in a jaunty, playful manner almost evoking the spirit and concerns of country music.
Collabro, consisting of Michael Auger, Jamie Lambert, Matt Pagan and Tomas Redgrave followed, with their individual vocal talents and close harmonies giving powerful renditions of showtunes and musical theatre numbers. These ran from the brooding melodrama of ‘Les Miserables’ and ‘Phantom of the Opera’, to songs from ‘Miss Saigon’ and ‘The Lion King’, which they performed with the Plymkids theatre group. Adding a touch of lightness between songs, they indulged in some youthful banter and delivered a few ‘dad’ jokes.
The icing on the cake was classically trained Carly Paoli who sang along with Collabro, and also individually performed a selection of songs including her debut single, a version of ‘Ave Maria’, that was used as the official song for Pope Francis’ Jubilee Year of Mercy. Her strong auditorium filling voice adding intensity to the emotional impact of her lyrics.
The stage setting, lighting, video screens and live musical accompaniment all added to the thrill of Collabro bringing the splendors of musical theatre beyond the West End. It was all brilliantly topped off with a selection of cover versions of songs including ‘Oh What a Night’ and ‘That’s Life’, which served as a Las Vegas style fun way to show off their choreographed dancing and round off the night on a high.