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Blog: Christmas In Stratford Actual

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On Monday night The Shops In My Centre and I walked through Westfield Stratford, over the Bridge into Stratford Actual, through the old shopping centre and over the road to attend a CAROL SERVICE at St John's Church. I have lived in old East London for nearly 15 years now and have been past this church about a MILLION times but have never been inside, so was quite excited to find it a) lovely b) HUGE and c) RAMMED with people.

The service was put on by Newham Music and it featured a wide variety of groups which they work with, including the E20 Community Choir which the aforementioned Notes On My Scale is a member of. Once inside she went off to find the rest of her lot and I sat down at the back, surrounded by the extremely Christmassy RACKET of excited kids, grumpy teenagers, tired parents, and school violins being dropped.

We'd missed the first half of the show, which I guessed had run LATE in the traditional manner, as the "ten minute break" we arrived in the middle of carried on for another half an hour! When the concert did get going again it was BRILLIANT and also rather MOVING. The second group on in our half was a school ROCK BAND, who were FLIPPING ACE, ESPECIALLY when they did an EXTENDED version of "The Ocean" by The Led Zeppelins. You could feel the HEAT of their music teacher being DELIGHTED that he/she had got them to perform this, especially when it went into EXTENDED IMPROV. Hilariously, a couple of Newham Officials decided that this would be a good time to try to get everybody to clap along, at PRECISELY the moment when time signatures got swapped about all over the place. ALSO at the end they did a sudden STOP, the singer said "We are Newham Music Collective!" and then they did a STADIUM ROCK FINISH. It could only have been improved if she had said "We Are! Newham! FLIPPING! Music Collective!" but I guess they might have got DONE if she had.

Next up was the E20 choir and I must admit I was a bit professionally worried about how they were going to follow THAT, but I need not have been as they were RUDDY WONDERFUL. I have, I think, only previously seen them either outside or in non-acoustically-advantageous rooms, so was not quite prepared for the SONIC AWESOMENESS of them singing Actual Christmas Carols in an Actual Christmas Church. COR! It was LOVELY!

It then got EVEN BETTER at the end when the BAND came back on and also ANOTHER choir, this time of children, so that they could all do "Merry Christmas (War Is Over)" together. It began with the kids singing verses and the band doing a gentle backing, but when the adult choir came in around the fourth verse it was WOW! I got one of them tingles up and down my spine that you read about, and the hairs on my arms LITERALLY stood on end. THEN when the music built up and the kids came back in singing the "War Is Over If You Want It" bit, I do not mind admitting that I had a genuine TEAR in my eye. When you hear it sung like this you realise what a POWERFUL song it is, and how clever John and Yoko were to stick in such an Actually Pretty Radical Anti-Establishment Message into a genuine CHRISTMAS HIT.

Needless to say, I felt SUPER CHRISTMASSY by the end of it! HOORAH!

posted 8/12/2017 by MJ Hibbett

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