The only thing that gives up the ghost at End of the Road, a world premiere concert by 25 Massachusetts pensioners in the Young @ Heart Chorus, is ageism. After the first number you soon forget that they're between 74 and 89 and you just want to dance to their lively rock numbers.
End of the Road is the last of a trilogy about age, memory and the power of music. The singers are positioned imaginatively on stage though they remain a little static. With warmth and genuine talent, the chorus sing numbers made famous by Bruce Springsteen, Coldplay and The Clash with fervour, though occasionally their voices are drowned by the band.
To give you an idea of the group's make up, at 85 Arthur Klein is one of the oldest but also one of the newest members. He joined in 2005 when, after the death of his wife, he moved to Massachusetts to be near his daughter. He's now a leading soloist. Dressed in a stylish grey raincoat and feathered hat and walking with a zimmer frame, he sings numbers including Bon Jovi’s “It’s my Life”.
Jean Florio, a member for 25 years and Dora B. Parker Morrow, mother of 15 who joined in 2002 are two years older than Arthur and both vibrant contributors. But at 89, Len Fontaine beats them all. A member of other choirs and harmonica groups he gives us a fast moving harmonica solo.
Their Chorus Director, Bob Cilman, certainly knows how to get the best out of his ageing performers and they’ve come a long way since 1988 when, as members of an old people’s housing group, they began singing for something to do.
Touring Europe, Australia and Canada since 1997, this is their second visit to Manchester and they've become an invaluable component of this year's festival.
- Julia Taylor