"It is not possible to state when the existence of the Spooky Men first came to light. Early settlers in the Blue Mountains reported attacks on livestock and evidence of scats and the occasional pawprint. It is only in recent years that sceptics have been disabused of the notion that the Spooky Men’s Chorale is the stuff of fanciful legend."
On first glance, the Spooky Men's Chorale is an all-male a capella choir from the Blue Mountains. That might sound fairly ordinary, however on turning up to your first Spooky Men gig, or listening closely to some of their tunes, or opening their website to the introduction listed above, it doesn't take long to realise the Spooky Men's Chorale is going to a be a little bit... different.
I first saw the Spooky Men sing at the Blackheath Choral Festival about a decade ago. They sang their Spooky theme song ("We are the Spooky Men": a little like this) and at one point brought on stage a large collection of work tools. I'm fairly sure one man was playing an anvil.
Fast forward to 2o17, and they have a good going collection of recordings, an impressive overseas touring history, and an ever expanding repertoire of that unique Spooky musical humour.
The Spooky Men's Chorale played two gigs at Marrickville's Camelot Lounge as part of this year's VIVID Festival. There was not a spare seat to be seen on opening night - the Blue Mountains based ensemble evidently have themselves a dedicated Sydney following.
They opened with a number that was a little more rowdy than muscially slick, with a few slips in timing and tonality. However the Spooky Men soon confirmed that they're not just all about the fun and gimmicks, but grounded in some decent harmonies and vocal blending too.
"In My Room" was the arrangement that won the National Folk Festival's cover song competition, which this year had a Beach Boys theme. Amidst the rest of their repertoire this restrained, sombre number gave a chance for the group to demonstrate their ability to sustain some more complicated vocal harmonies.
But the highlight of a Spooky Concert is always going to be the quirkier pieces - classic Spooky track "Don't Stand Between A Man And His Tools" brought fits of laughter, without so much as a smile cracked by the hilariously deadpan singers. "We Are Not A Men's Group" was another hit, where we were earnestly reminded that despite being men, even a group of men, they are absolutely not "a men's group".
There was a lot of orchestrated spontaneity, with constant reminders of the lack of orchestration, of course, and towards the end of the evening, the long awaited Georgian section that you didn't know your life was lacking.
The Spooky Men are a unique brand of Australian music and humour, well worth seeing live once every so often to find out what all the madness is about.
Upcoming gigs, music videos and more can be found on the Spooky Men's Chorale website.
|19 Marrickville Road|
|+61 2 9550 3777|
Mon – Thu 7pm – late
Fri – Sat 7.30pm – late
Sun 6.30pm – late