The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain at the Proms

uogbOn Tuesday I made my first ever trek to the BBC Proms to listen to silly ukelele music and nearly 1,000 people play Ode to Joy, as you do.

Yes I was at Proms 45 to hear the The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain – an 8 piece band, they’ve been going for24 years doing frankly ludicrous and humorous covers on the most unlikely of instruments – the ukelele. I’m sure they in part are responsible for the current UkeTube trend of recording unlikely covers on ukeleles and resurgence of interest in the Ukelele (a 19th century hawaiian instrument, fact fans!) taking it out of the George Formby and into the 21st century.

The set was great, they played the regular set (I bought Live in London #1 and Anarchy in the Ukelele DVD and the Live CD closely matched what they played) – they started with their cover of Anarchy in the UK  – strange to hear the whole audience sing along to a Sex Pistols track in the Albert Hall – the aforementioned Ode to Joy where nearly a 1,000 ukeleles (you can do a Where’s Wally on me and John with that pic – hint I’m wearing my Berlin crossing tshirt) brought by the audience played along and they did their excellent covers of Wuthering Heights, Psycho Killer, Teenage Dirtbag (loads of blank faces on that one while I was merrily singing along), Pinball Wizard and a great cover of Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries going into Hawkwind’s Silver Machine which had John in stitches.

Best moments for me were the heckler who shouted ‘Judas!’ after one of the band said ‘We were rather hoping at this juncture to perform a traditional English piece of music…but we’d thought we’d give em a rest in fact do a classic English rock song ‘ (he’d been talking about Black Sabbath earlier so maybe it was also a request LOL) and the part where they played their medleys, which are basically mashups, singing one song on top of another, Humph style – they’ve been doing the ‘4 Chords’ thing years before that became an internet sensation.

They were doing Melange (which I’ve posted below) which includes Angels, Sympathy for the Devil, Heroes, You Sexy Thing, Waiting for My Man, If I Was a Carpenter, Hey Jude and others – and the whole Albert Hall started waving their ukeleles lighter-style. It was a wonderful moment.

You can still hear the live broadcast at Radio 3 until next week, and hear a program about the UOGB (as they are to their friends) here but here are a few MP3s from the ‘Live in London #1’ CD which I heartily recommend buying.

  • Melange (includes Sympathy for the Devil, Heroes,You Sexy Thing, If I Was a Carpenter, Hey Jude and more)
  • Life on Mars (simultaneous segue – Bowie, My Way, Born Free, For Once in My Life
  • Wuthering Heights

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