It wouldn’t have mattered if every train had been cancelled due to snow or if every taxi driver had gone on strike, I would have got home on Sunday carried along on a wave of sheer joy, thanks to the Christmas Cocktail concert by Judy Macinnes, Julie Davies, James Duggan, Delories Dunn, Richard Hunter, John Ruescas and Jonathan D. Mellor.
A Christmas Cocktail was a beautiful concoction of songs, poetry and silly nonsense of the best kind, mixed by the group themselves with ingredients including a touch of Noël Coward, Gustav Holst, and that trusty old friend, Traditional, and served in the bar at the Hotel Vinci Via 66. This was an inspired choice of venue as we were able to enjoy the singers’ voices without the hassle of amplification, and we were all so close, it was lovely.
John Ruescas has such a beautiful, tender tenor voice that he is able to make the most of any romantic song, and manages to make the apparently unequivocal When you tell me that you love me sound like the saddest ever song of unrequited love, and his moments of The Most Wonderful time of Year turn your thoughts immediately to far away family instead of at- home comforts. By contrast, Delories powers on with her great voice and stage presence, and has the great advantage, for me, of coming up with songs from the very Americanest of repertoires which I haven’t heard before.
Richard, of course, was superb, reciting the first world war poem of the unofficial truce at Christmas 1914 followed by Tannenbaum in German and English. The world stopped turning for a few moments then, and the horror of that war, and all the other wars since 1914 and the ones tragically still under way, was hanging there with us in the room.
It served me right for doubting, but Anything you can do I can better did not seem, on the face of it, the most appropriate choice for a Christmas event, and there they were, Julie and James, wrecking the song mercilessly and bringing the house down with a Madrid 2010 mix of the great duet. James also recited, this time The Boy Actor, which he performed so movingly that I was not only one to mistake this for his own work, apologies to Noël, not Gallagher by Coward.
Everyone, of course, did more than just these items I have mentioned, and were accompanied by Jonathan at every turn, who even did a turn on his own, and so sympathetically was his accompaniment.
And Judy, boss for the night, soloist, duetist, librettist and inspiration for the concert. Thank you for the ideas, the choice of music and for your wonderful singing. A great night and a wonderful way to get Christmas rolling. Thanks to you all, we have started to Have Ourselves a Merry Little Christmas…