Magnificent AK 47
October 20th St Georges Bristol
Gathering Voices Festival of Song 2013
With as many costume changes as key changes, it is clear that the Magnificent AK 47 are not your traditional male voice choir. In fact, the costumes are so elaborate they make Lady Gaga’s wardrobe look like a BHS bargain bin. There’s everything from psychedelic ponchos and pantomime horses for their spirited take on Ennio Morricone’s Gringo Like Me, swash-buckling pirate paraphernalia for their very own Land Shanty and all manner of follical tomfoolery for their beardy take on ‘the alternative Welsh National Anthem’, Delilah. Yes, the Magnificent Ak 47 are more than a little silly but it would be a mistake to dismiss them as mere merry pranksters.
As well as the humour, there is also genuine emotion that emerges at various points in the Wiltshire-based choir’s set. These are all men who have lived through at least several decades: they have experienced joy and sorrow and everything in between. This becomes abundantly clear on the heartfelt and subtle Georgian piece Shen xar venaxi which is rendered spectacularly by St Georges’ exceptional acoustics. An English-language take on the Welsh male voice choir classic Myfanwy is equally powerful, losing nothing of its rousing glory in translation.
Apparently though, after experiencing all that life can throw at them, the men of the Magnificent AK 47 have decided, quite sensibly, to choose silliness as their modus operandi. By leaving behind some of the fustiness of the male voice choir genre, they are liberated, able to move between genres and moods without pussyfooting or undue preciousness. It is refreshing and cements their set as a highlight of another fantastic year of Gathering Voices Festival of Song.