The Christmas Cracker

Glasgow Royal Concert Hall

Alison Kerr

three stars

An alien attending the annual Christmas Cracker concert on Sunday night might wonder why on earth Glasgow punters return to it year after year. After all, the mish-mash format is slightly bonkers, the quality of the music variable and the presenter’s dour personality and dreadful jokes more offputting than appealing (and there is no mute button).

The answer can only be the singalong aspect. Where else over Christmas can you be assured of the chance to sing your Abba repertoire accompanied by the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, or unleash your inner Julie Andrews/Bing Crosby without the rest of your household’s TV viewers telling you to put a sock in it?

This year’s singalong numbers didn’t differ much from previous years’ – one of the numerous familiar aspects of this concert that seems to work to its advantage – but the movie medley was from Mary Poppins, by popular request from 2015, and a reference to the fact that the Disney classic is one of the staples of the TV schedule at this time of year.

As ever, the first half of the concert featured the City of Glasgow Chorus, conducted by Graham Taylor, performing classic carols and Christmas songs, most memorably the beautifully simple How Far Is It to Bethlehem and Jesus Child. This being the couthiest (and most surreal) concert in the Royal Concert Hall’s festive calendar, there was a long-winded explanation about how “Captain Peacock of Helensburgh” financed the securing of the arrangement for Rocking Carol, one of several songs which seemed to suffer from timing issues, even without the help of the audience…