13.11.2019 The Ukelele Orchestra of Great Britain @ Savoy Teatteri, Helsinki

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Sometimes intriguing events pop up in my newsfeed, and I have a strange urge to attend them. THE UKELELE ORCHESTRA OF GREAT BRITAN at Savoy Teatteri on 13 November 2019 was an event like that, and we decided that by the event’s description we just had to be a part of it. Check out our photo gallery here.

We arrived at Savoy Teatteri right on time for the show, and as we found our seats, we were surrounded by an almost soldout venue out of which most people, strangely enough, brought their own ukelele to the event. Before we could question ourselves if we had missed an important clue, the orchestra started their set with “Sleighride”, but not before explaining to the audience how they have a tradition to turn on the Christmas lights around this period of time. They wanted to share this moment with the audience, counted down, and the smallest collection of Christmas lights wrapped around a mic stand, lighted up. The audience started laughing, and the band played through their first track. The song ended and the first member of the band started his speech, as it turns out with THE UKELELE ORCHESTRA OF GREAT BRITAIN you are not only getting lots of great tunes, but a show also includes a lot of (British) humor.

As the night went along with some covers, the band suddenly changed the vibe and asked the audience to bring out their tablatures for the first participatory song of the evening “Oh, Christmas Tree”. The people who had brought their ukelele took out their sheet music and played along with the band. The band meant to play this as the last song before the first half of the evening ended but messed it up, and then joked about it. They played another song for the 15-minute intermission.

The set continued with songs like “Das Model”, “Dreams” by THE CRANBERRIES (which according to them is vegan-friendly), and became participatory again during “Winter Wonderland”, where the saxophone solo got replaced by one of the members whistling. The set became heavier during “Song 2” by BLUR and then reached a climax during an impressive mashup of a couple of songs, which sounded at times chaotic but fitted perfectly. “Fly Me to the Moon”, “Wild World”, “Killing Me Softly”, “I Will Survive”, and “Hotel California” were smoothly combined together with a song by Händel.

The orchestra finished up their set with AC/DC‘s “Highway to Hell”, with one of the members letting down his hair and headbanging to the insane riffs banged aggressively on the ukeleles. We weren’t ready for goodbyes, so after loud applause, the band came back with two more songs “Heroes” by David Bowie, and a serene and beautiful rendition of “Finlandia” by SIBELIUS. This definitely was one of the highlights of the year.

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