This review first appeared on The Oxford Student website on 27 November 2015.
I never thought of gargoyles as particularly musical creatures. Fortunately, Oxford University’s own acappella group is out to disprove prejudice against mythical creatures with their most recent showing at The Mad Hatter pub, Lashing Through The Snow. A lively assembly of Christmas carols and acappella standards, ‘Lashing’ made for an extremely pleasant evening. While the show itself was not exactly groundbreaking, the Gargoyles demonstrated a flawless grasp of their material, keeping the audience thoroughly entertained throughout. The real testament to these performers’ skill is that they made the whole thing seem effortless, providing the perfect tonic to the late-term blues.
The set opened with ‘Jingle Bells’, and from there alternated between Christmas songs and less seasonal fare, with highlights including a rendition ‘Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas’ a fantastic version of the Pink Panther Theme. The transitions never felt forced, mainly due to the sheer skill of the singers, and the panache with which they carried off each individual number. Not a note was out of place, and they managed to find at least one fresh new take on every song they performed. Their version of ‘O Come All Ye Faithful’ was more intimate and moving than any of this year’s carol services, and they were nicely creative in their delivery of ‘My Baby Just Cares For Me’ as various members took on different parts of the song and made them their own.
It was a thoroughly charming bit of entertainment, even if it suffered in places from a lack of polish. There were one or two instances of over-singing, and things started to fray a bit towards the end, as there was a weirdly long faff over sorting out the encore. At under an hour the set felt a bit short – enjoyable as it was, another few songs might have helped the audience feel like they’d gotten their ten quid’s worth.
But these are the kind of flaws one expects from any student performance, and the overall package was an absolute delight. The Oxford Gargoyles have provided a wonderful piece of festive entertainment, and if they carry on like this they are sure to become a fixture of the Oxmas calendar.