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The West End Men, Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow

Murder was committed at the Concert Hall on Wednesday evening when songs from current West End shows were slaughtered in front of a live audience.

Not only were numbers from musicals slain; pop songs from across the decades were casualties too. And we're not talking quick executions. Most of these were lingering, painful deaths – and tortuous to witness.

It had all started out so promisingly. The opening number – Pure Imagination – was endearingly sung by the trio of West End stars Ramin Karimloo, Stephen Rahman-Hughes and Lee Mead. Thereafter, the show turned into a feast of bad taste, featuring arrangements which lulled the listener into a false sense of security and semi-pleasure before exploding into samey rock ballads.

Rahman-Hughes's Nature Boy was a case in point. From a gentle opening, suitable to the wistful mood of the song, it erupted into a raucous, up-tempo affair featuring bawdy electric guitars and overpowering drums. Similarly, the dazzling voice of un-billed Ashleigh Gray would have been more effectively showcased if the arrangement of I Dreamed a Dream hadn't called for the band to switch to rock mode and drown her out.

That said, the ground-floor-only audience went nuts for every song, a fact which at first suggested a mass brainwashing (possibly utilising the overpowering searchlights which blinded punters throughout the show) was taking place. A more likely reason is the involvement, in the final numbers, of a choir from the Glasgow Academy of Musical Theatre Arts. They stole the show, and the standing ovation of students and grannies was undoubtedly inspired by them.


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