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Reviews / Review: Happy end at the Town Hall

Saturday Night at the Movies with Veev - Photo: Iain Tulloch

MUSIC has been an integral part of films since the silent era, when some poor soul would be employed to tickle the ivories as Buster Keaton performed Health-and-Safety defying stunts and Lon Chaney frightened people out of the theatre. Once it became possible to include sound in the films themselves, music became one of the most important aspects of the silver screen experience.

Celebrating this was all-female vocal group Veev, joined by Full Swing and Annalie Irvine, for Saturday Night At The Movies – a concert of film music in support of the charity War Child, which protects thousands of children from war-torn areas across the globe.

Taking the lead before a packed-out Town Hall were Veev, with a wide spectrum of film music, ranging from Love Walked In (from 1938’s The Goldwyn Follies) to Skyfall (from… 2012’s Skyfall). The stage could barely contain the twenty-one member strong group, led by Director Dierdre Hayward on piano, who has headed the group since their inception nearly five years ago.

Most of Veev’s songs were drawn from Hollywood musicals (such as Music of the Night from Phantom of the Opera, a song about a deformed, masked musician abducting a girl), although a few choice numbers from non-musical films made the cut (including Academy Award-winning Moon River from Breakfast at Tiffany’s). All were performed with the sort of energy only possible from such a large and varied group, and arranged to make good use of the diversity of vocal styles and strengths therein.

The audience, for their part, loved every single note. A clear crowd favourite was from Disney’s Frozen – thankfully not Let It Go, but the far more interesting Eatnemen Vuelie or Song of the Earth, a lively and unaccompanied chant in the traditional ‘joik’ style of the Sámi people of Scandinavia, that managed to linger in the back of the mind long after the concert had finished.

Veev did cheat slightly with two exceptions to the ‘film music’ theme- the sad and emotive For Good and the considerably more upbeat One Short Day from Broadway musical Wicked, included on the basis that Wicked will probably be a film at some point. If any pedants in the audience took issue with the inclusion of these non-film tunes, their complaints would have been drowned out by the raucous applause following each song.

Supporting Veev were solo accordionist Annalie Irvine and Full Swing. Annalie, who has only been playing the accordion for “around ten months” demonstrated a definite aptitude for her instrument of choice, diving in at the deep end with Baltic and Klezmer-style numbers from films as diverse as French comedy Amélie and Guy Ritchie’s crime caper Snatch.

Annalie handled these complex and fast tunes far more capably than her short experience of playing would suggest, and will undoubtedly be a recurring fixture in the Shetland music scene.

Full Swing, a jazz and swing outfit, also stuck faithfully to the evening’s, with a rendition of the instantly recognisable theme from The Pink Panther standing out. Crooning classics Beyond the Sea (featured in several films over the years) and Theme from New York, New York (made famous by Frank Sinatra, arguably perfected in Gremlins 2) were also notably good fun.

Audiences love a happy ending at the movies, and the evening was closed off with Veev’s version of Pharrell Williams’ Happy, from Despicable Me 2, ensuring just that. If the enthusiastic response is anything to go by, there’ll surely be a sequel in the pipeline.

Alex Garrick-Wright