Having heard the boys of The 8th Fold performing at Tori Allen-Martin’s gig a few weeks ago but annoyingly missed the concert of The 8th Fold itself, I leapt at the chance to see them performing this music again. Thankfully, the team of Onoray held a gig at the Union Theatre on December 15th.
The show was broken up into seven segments within the two acts, and to begin it all Gianni Onori, the creator of all the work shown in the evening, sang Telling Tales, the first song in the ‘Out of the Dark’ section. Amy Keast then sang Hard As I Try, followed by James Gillan singing Who Will Love Me?, from these three songs alone I was already really enjoying the contemporary pieces that Gianni has written that also have a slight ballad feel too.
In the next segment of the show the songs were described as a series about a particular relationship that was titled ‘Honest’, and with this context became incredibly raw and powerful songs. You Don’t Have To Love Me was sang by Ashley Jenkins, Tattoo by Alex Beaumont, The Pillow By Me by Anna Haresnape, Crocodile Tears by Matthew Maguire and One Last Look by Nathan Lodge, and collectively they portrayed coherently the relationship with how Gianni himself had felt about it, all the songs having been sung beautifully too. Interestingly while about the same subject there was a distinctive tone within each song reflecting the emotion and I found that really pleasing to hear.
For the final segment of the first act, a series entitled ‘Homosuperior’ where the songs were inspired by various characters from the X-Men series with Storm sang by Natalie Tulloch, Rogue by Will Bradnam, Apocalypse by Luke Striffler and Juggernaut by Gianni. Throughout the show in between the songs Gianni gave a brief bit of background to the songs which could usually make the concert feel choppy however here it worked really well especially in the first act where the songs had a lot of personal meaning, and having that contextual understanding when hearing the music for the first time helped to appreciate it more. With the first act ending I had really liked hearing the contemporary side of Gianni’s work.
As he’d mentioned earlier in the night, the second act was formulated of the musicals he’d created. Akin to the first act the second was broken up into clear sections, and the first comprised of music from the Queen of Scots musical. This musical is based on, as you may have guessed, the life of Mary Queen of Scots. The first song from this show performed was a fierce duet between Natalie Tulloch and Ashley Jenkins with A Rose of Any Colour with Natalie as Queen Elizabeth and Ashley as Queen Mary, followed by Royal Blood sung by Ashley. The next musical showcased was Dorian Gray, however in Gianni’s version it’s been flipped so the story is told from the perspective of Dorian Gray as a female, and a solo of the same title was performed by Amy Keast.
The penultimate set of songs were from a musical based on a film called Prayers for Bobby which focus’ on a mother whose actions indadvertedly lead to her son committing suicide as he’s gay and she, being from a very religious background, sends him away from the family. In the first song from this musical, Matthew Maguire and Anna Haresnape were paired together as brother and sister I believe to perform What Would You Say? (Pray), a heartbreaking number where Bobby attempts to tell the truth and is silenced. Emma Finlay then performed Amen as Bobby’s mother where she speaks out at a gay rights rally, speaking of how she feels her actions have led to her son’s death.
To close the show I was finally able to hear more of the genius that is The 8th Fold which I was thrilled about. They opened this section with Grave Beginnings that all the boys in the show sing on, hinting towards the narrative of the show with beautiful layers and harmonies. Nathan Lodge, who I’ve seen recently in Giggin’ For Good and Christmas In New York and have thoroughly enjoyed hearing, performed a slick rendition of Conversations before Alex Beaumont performed a powerful Under Fire. Luke Striffler performed Cowboys and Indians which had a very sad undertone of childhood, with James Gillan then singing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. The last solo from this section was from Will Bradnam performing Private and Confidential, and what I found really interesting was through each song seeing a glimpse of the different characters in the show and how they’re dealing with the same trauma. They all came together as a collective to perform Ground Zero which is the one song I’d heard previously, and it was performed as spine-chillingly as before. Should this be a standalone production I won’t be missing it due to that song alone, I’d recommend any to listen to it.
The impressive 8th Fold music finished the show and I loved hearing music that was completely new to me and enjoying it so much. The variety that Gianni can create is fantastic and I’d especially love to see the 8th Fold do well!