The music of The Carpenters is beautiful, the story tragic, and by accident or design, the Samaritans were waiting for the audience as we filed out of Symposium Hall.
We’d been there for Night Owl Shows’ The Carpenters Songbook. That’s a 50-minute show of some impressive live music and some sombre documentary on the brother and sister performers.
I think I was twice the average age of the Night Owl band and about two-thirds the age of the average audience member. The heyday of The Carpenters might have been the 70s but don’t let that put you off; the music is timeless.
Not heard them? My favourite song from the group, Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft, is not one of the covers in the show and so let me use it to provide a sample.
A musical documentary
I’ll leap at the chance to go back to the amphitheatre in Symposium Hall. I think it’s part of the Royal College of Surgeons and suffice to say, it’s comfortable, has excellent acoustics and everything going for it.
There was enough space for a four-part band, complete with drums and a very talented lead singer as the fifth member. Every seat was a good seat, and you got to be up close and personal, but not overly so.
I’m unsure whether I’ve ever waved my phone around as a fake lighter in the crowd before, a gesture of appreciation for the music, but I did here.
We should concede that the talent of The Carpeteners and co-writers, whom you learn about here, make the show possible, but Night Owl brings it to life. It would have been an injustice if our lead singer had been anything less than amazingly talented today.
There perhaps should have been trigger warnings. Karen suffered from eating disorders and was subject to emotional abuse. Her brother Richard fought addiction.
The documentary doesn’t get graphic but doesn’t hold back either. And we only ever get a minute or two of footage before the next live song.
I liked the format. I learned about The Carpenters. I was treated to some impressive singing and appreciated every minute.
I think it helps to have heard of The Carpenters to get the most from this gig, but you don’t have to be a super fan. I knew some of their songs and had a rough idea of their history.
As a result, I got a tragic but well-told history lesson and was treated to some impressive covers.
One thing, though, I can’t sing. No matter how much it would be great if I could.