Have you heard the expression of something being “bigger than Earth Wind and Fire”? Referring to the colossal size and range of the commercially successful American band, this expression is often used as a compliment. However, it appears that Gospo Enterprises has taken this expression instead as a challenge and come out on top, using a 50+ person choir, a five piece band, one brilliant music director and one special guest artist to present the huge, happiness-inducing show “The Gospel According To Earth, Wind and Fire”.
Now before you even start, don’t assume this is a tribute show solely comprised of Earth, Wind and Fire tunes – shows by Gospo are never that simple and this is no exception. Instead, this two-hour performance, directed by Charmaine Jones-Devasagayam, sees for the marriage of multiple modern music genres (mostly disco-pop) and gospel music, which theoretically doesn’t make sense, but in reality proves to be a very happy union.
At the hands of Jones there is an innovative integration of the two genres, with pop hits from a variety of artists segueing seamlessly into Christian choral songs, both thematically and musically; it’s a repertoire that moves hearts as well as bodies. Special guest Andrew De Silva (winner of Australia's Got Talent 2012) and Gospo groups (Gospo Collective, The Jones Commentary and The Jones Juniors) are the ones to be credited with bringing Jones’ vision to life beautifully.
De Silva has a very professional presence and proves his skill as a performer in how well he works with the greater group, considering that his bump-in was just days before the show. The choir’s harmonies and choreography are tight, as they are in every Gospo show. The changes between soloists and groups allow for difference in dynamics throughout the set. The band is strong with musicians from across Australia, their talents evident in moments of improvisation. The show is well-mixed, well-lit, well-costumed and well-stage managed. The efforts of all those behind the scenes are very evident onstage, particularly that of Jones’ business partner Ben Gillard who joins the Gospo groups for a couple of numbers in between managing backstage.
The thing that makes Gospo shows particularly special is the moments between songs where Jones, the past-life preacher, links the set list together by sharing personal anecdotes with and imparting learned wisdom from these experiences upon her audience. What does she want her audience to take from this production? That, just as different kinds of music can be brought together (as evident in this show), so can different kinds of people; in fact, music is instrumental in doing this. Music unites and ignites us all to express our truths.
There is one truth the audience of “The Gospel According To Earth Wind and Fire” will know for sure as they boogie out of the theatre, that what they were witness to was a clever and colourful collision of contemporary and choral music, which created a strong sense of community in the crowd, much like that of a church. Get along to Gospo and hear the good word – or rather the good music – and you too will be a believer.
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