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  • Writer's pictureFrances

Now That's What I Call Christmas Live | The Bridgewater Hall | Manchester

As LadBaby and Stormzy battle for 2019’s coveted Christmas number one spot, the Bridgewater Hall prepare its audience for a sleighful of Christmas classics. There’s no better way to kick off the holiday season than to do a deep dive into your favourite Christmas tracks and Now’s concert brings these tracks to life with a live orchestra. With Robert Emery conducting and Capital Voices performing the backing vocals, Now That’s What I Call Christmas runs through over 14 unforgettable hits, comprising the most successful Christmas songs of all time.

Performed by guest singers and stars of the stage, Kerry Ellis (Wicked and Wonderland) and Tim Howar (Phantom of the Opera) this deluxe Now edition offers everyone’s treasured seasonal album in an entertaining night of merriment. Ellis’s tracks included a beautiful rendition of O Holy Night, a Shakin’ Stevens number one and of course, the bestselling Christmas single by Mariah Carey, All I Want For Christmas Is You. With the backing of a live orchestra and three costume changes, the mellow show carried a relaxed vibe to the Christmas jumper wearing audience.

Billowing into the audience for handshakes, Howar’s performances included Driving Home For Christmas, Last Christmas and a karaoke rendition of East 17’s Stay Another Day. As the songs, last-minute tag on to the line-up of tracks left Howar asking for help with the lyrics he had tacked onto the stage floor. The deep-voiced performer even turned his hand to the novelty; high pitched Darkness track, Christmas Time (Don’t Let the Bells End).

As the productions main attraction is its stage talent, there was no bad seat in the house, the sparse band and Capital Voices spread out across the stage, but there were no visual blockades in place for member sitting in the stalls. In fact, if you plan on standing to dance at the Bridgewater, the stalls and the side circle seats are your best bet for cutting a rug without being elbowed.

Finally, blending their vocals for a compilation of throwback classic, the night interspersed Baby It’s Cold Outside and Fairytale of New York as its paired add-ons. Overall, Now That’s What I Call Christmas offered a spirited boost for any audience obsessed with hearing the most converted Christmas carols performed with a live band.

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