Christians? On a Sunday?

The Christians 
Walker Theatre

Ha that got your attention. No this isn’t going to be an ecumenical polemic, it’s actually a review of one of the best shows I have seen this year. It was a privilege to be in the audience as we lapped up the golden tones of Garry Christian and the new line up of the busy touring band, The Christians.

The Christians first came to our attention in the Nineteen-Eighties, but unlike Rick Ghastly or the fun loving brothers Dross, The Christians offered an intellectual value to the sounds back then and wowed us with songs like The Bottle, Hooverville and of course, their classic cover of the Isley Brother’s, Harvest for the world.

As Garry Christian informally explained the life of a member of a charting band has it’s ups and downs, he told us they left Island Records owing them half a million pounds.  We also got the vibe that he may just have split with his Girlfriend…don’t however quote me on that, but it was the impression he gave us. However, he made no reference to his brothers who were in the original line up. The initial split of the band was probably as a result of Garry going to live in France and his recording of a solo album.

But what marks these guys out now is their incredible musicianship and their truly awesome, (I haven’t ever used that over used word in a review before!) harmonies. The accuracy and solid reliability of the harmonies is indicative of a band that rehearse extremely hard and play their gigs to perfection every time.

Garry is naturally warm and incredibly funny. Liverpudlians are always cited for their quick wit and dry approach to anything amazing. I would hate to say that’s a stereo typical view but Garry Christian did very little to dispel that belief and in fact played right into it. His delivery was acerbic, dry and understated.

He opened his soul to us and left us with no doubt that he was an artist to his very fingertips. He showed himself to be an observer and a very intelligent commentator. He held the audience in the palm of his hand from the first note of Dylan’s, I shall be released, to the last note of their finishing song, Harvest for the world. If this band had said at the end they were going to do another three hours, I believe the partisan crowd would have cheered so loud the whole of Frankwell would have rung with the din.

Speaking very quietly Garry threw in one liners and incredibly quick witted improvised responses to the hecklers. It wasn't the kind of heckling that can destroy a man’s soul but more of an invited kind of  “What do you think?” kind of scenario. Some of the heckles were top drawer but done warmly and with consent.  The lady who told him to wear his tee shirt outside of his jeans to look better, probably takes the gold for best heckle. He was floored as was the audience.

One thing that seeped through not only from Garry himself but the rest of the band was the sensitivity and belief they have in their material. With a solid utterly reliable back line of Keys, Drums and Bass they achieved pathos and sentiment in equal and totally correct measure.

Drummer Lionel Duke must have been born with drum sticks in his hand. I know that would have made an awkward delivery for all the midwives but thank goodness they persevered, The Christians have a very safe pair of hands with him driving the rhythms. Rhythms that identify, so easily, the Christians’ unique sound. Another absolute asset to the band is the beautiful singing and playing of lead guitarist, Joey Ankrah.

In summary it could be said that every single audience member left feeling thoroughly entertained and that, after all what it’s all about. This band is soulful, they are perceptive and they have a great musical integrity. It was a brilliant show. Obviously one is aware of their back catalogue but when you go to a gig that involves sitting down and good behaviour you are never sure if the band will pull it off. These guys did. It is difficult to put something on that demands audience interaction into such a polite and sterile environment. Garry Christian broke the convention and actually made each individual member feel they not only knew him personally but that he was delivering the entire show to them, individually in their own front rooms. People like that.

I for one am a born again Christian….FAN!!!!

This is a five star review.

Owen Lewis

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Owen Lewis Owen Lewis

Owen Lewis was born fifty something years ago in the land of the black puddings. For the geographically challenged that is in Lancashire. Moving to Shropshire From 1970 Owen was brought up in Church Stretton. His first real job was in radio. After starting on BBC Radio Shropshire he became known on Marcher Sound, broadcasting throughout the North West for several years. After a university degree course in Theatre, Owen became an actor and went on to play "Pirate Bill" in The Alton Towers Hotel. He also made several television appearances. Returning to university he took his PGCE enabling him to teach. That saw him on the Essex coast as a drama teacher and latterly as a Creative Educational Liaison Officer making films and creating new teaching methods to employ on children in need of more help in their fundamental learning skills. Published playwright Owen ultimately wants a house boat in Amsterdam to focus on his work as Playwright and Poet.

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