A week after the concert there is finally my review.
It’s been a year since I discovered Libera – quite accidentally via YouTube as I came across their “Carol of the Bells”. The concert on December 1st in London was my second Libera concert. For more than seven months I had been longing for experiencing Libera marvel live again and finally the important day had come at last.
The venue for the concert had been changed at a very short notice. Now it was the Westminster Cathedral rather than the St. Georges Cathedral. I wonder, how it could happen, that major construction works at the St. Georges Cathedral, which must have been planned much in advance, were not taken into consideration when planning the concert. I have never attended any concert at the St. Georges before, so I can’t compare the two venues regarding acoustics or which one of them is better suitable to host a concert like that. The Westminster Cathedral acoustic seem to be good, though I’m not an expert. There were actually two things, which in my opinion somehow negatively influenced the overall experience. The first one, was the physical arrangement of the part of the church which became the stage. It would be perfect, as it is quite high above the ground level, thus the choir would be visible quite well if not a wall on both sides of the stairs. The wall was not very high, but high enough to make most of the boys visible to the audience from more or less the waist up only. For me this was a bit disturbing, as I experienced the wall as kind of a barrier separating the audience from the choir and from the music.
The second and more serious thing was, that there are regular services in the cathedral according to their schedule, which do not allow for setting up all the Libera’s technical equipment as well as performing the soundcheck early enough. As a result of that (I guess), there were some technical problems during the concert – mainly about balancing the sound levels between groups or individual singers at different songs.
The evening mass in the cathedral ended at about 6.15 p.m. and all the audience were asked to leave. The doors were closed at about 6.30 and were planned to be opened at 7.15 again. Only 45 minutes for the final equipment setup and the soundcheck!!
At this time the whole Libera fan family was left outside standing in front of the cathedral in the cold. But this was a very nice time, as there was a possibility to meet and talk to old and new friends. Again I must admit, that all Libera fans I’ve met so far are very kind and friendly people. It was great to meet many of them again as well as meet new ones. I’ve been in the Libera fan community for a couple of months only, but I can say without any doubts, that joining it was one of the best things which happened to me this year.
The cathedral doors were opened at 7.35 – 20 minutes later as planned – and all the audience moved towards the entrance. It went a bit chaotic at the moment, but finally everybody found their seat. In fact, the seat arrangement at the Westminster Cathedral allowed for actually quite seamlessly assigning the seat numbers from St. George with some of the audience being luckily moved from the back to rows to the front.
I was asked to buy some merchandise for other fans who were not able to come to London, so before the concert I managed to buy 5 photo books and 5 calendars + two signed programmes. It must have looked weird probably, as I walked through the cathedral with my loot and tried to stuff the quite heavy load somewhere around my seat.
As I took a look at the set list I was thrilled from joy and excitement immediately. There were songs I hoped very much to hear live one day: “How Great Thou Art
”, “Stay With Me
”, “Carol Of The Bells
”, “I Am The Day
” and “Orinoco Flow
”. I was happy especially about the first one of the above mentioned. It is one of my favorite hymns. I know the Libera version from the America DVD and now I was about to hear it live with hopefully Alex G as the soloist.
Because of the initial delay, the concert start was delayed as well, but at 8.15 all seemed to be ready with all the audience seated and lights dimmed. The concert was about to begin.
The concert started in an unusual way. Only four boys appeared on stage: Gabe, Merlin, Alessandro and Leo. Gabe started the song “Do You Hear What I Hear
” by himself then the others joined. At the same time the rest of the choir entered the stage from both sides. I didn’t know the song previously, so it was a nice surprise to hear something completely new to me. But one thing was sure. Libera did it again!!! I don’t know how it works, but each time I hear their music, I feel a mixture of excitement and joy. So, I was immediately in the best mood.
” seems to be a must at every Libera concert. I know, that some of the fans are fed up with it and would probably wish the song disappeared for a while from the set list, but not me. I like it very much as it is one of Libera’s landmarks. I wasn’t disappointed this time. “Sanctus” was sung very nicely and its harmonies and tunes made me smile at once.
Time for a speech. Alex G. and Peter introduced the concert. Actually, the speeches were a bit different at this concert. There were many new ones. The well-known “language speech” was missing this time. Instead, at the end of the concert, some of the boys wished “Merry Christmas” in about 12 different languages.
” followed with Gabe as the soloist. “Gaudete” is a joyful song, actually a traditional one but with an interesting rhythm and Libera harmonies. I enjoyed it a lot.
The next song was “Angele Dei
”. I was excited to hear Rocco’s voice in that song. I was not disappointed at all. Rocco has a remarkable voice – a bit mat, yet still powerful. The choir did a wonderful job. I felt all like waving in the air surrounded by the voices and then gently landing as the song came to its finale. A wonderful experience.
“From a Distance
” was very nicely delivered by Merlin with the rest of the choir kneeling on the stage. Again a very emotional song, which I like very much.
“Carol of the Bells
” – Libera’s most viewed song on YouTube was no disappointment. Unfortunately, I didn’t spot the soloists singing the vocalizes at the end. The final “Ding-Dong” was sung by one of the miniboys – Daniel.
Then the song I was waiting for very much had come - “How Great Thou Art
”. Alex G did the solo. I was really impressed by his voice and his reliable performance.
Another song I was looking very much forward to was next up - “Stay With Me
”. Oliver stood in front with rest of the choir on both sides. I’m really happy, that Oliver got that solo. I watched him carefully and I noticed how focused he was, how reliable and clearly his singing was. It was really a joy to watch him sing. Unfortunately, there was something wrong with his microphone. The volume level was too low, so his voice was not loud enough (though still audible) and sometimes there seemed to come to some feedback from the speakers. Taichi was responsible for the high vocalizes at this song, but his microphone suffered from similar issues. It’s a pity. Now I’m looking very much forward to hearing Oliver and Taichi in “Stay With Me” again – hopefully in Ely in May 2018.
The first part of the concert ended with “Dies Irae
” and “Joyful Joyful
” which were delivered at standard Libera quality. Standard Libera quality means very good of course.
The second part of the concert started with “I Am The Day
”. Again, just like at the beginning, there appeared only three boys on stage: Alex G, Oliver and Peter. They started in a trio: Alex G singing and the two others whispering. The performance caught me immediately. I was like enchanted watching the boys sing. In the meanwhile the rest of the choir joined and developed the song’s harmonies. Thrills and goosebumps from the first note to the last one.
“I’m Dreaming Of Home
” and “San Damiano
” followed. There were some technical issues again, I think. Taichi’s solo in the first of them was too quiet at first, then it got better. In “San Damiano” I could not clearly hear the highest part.
” was perfect. Taichi stood a bit behind the choir with his hood on his head. He delivered the high “Salvas” flawlessly. Goosebumps again.
” is actually so well-known and sung by everybody, that actually it might be considered boring. But not when performed by Libera. They really put a new shine on that hymn. I was again amazed by Rocco’s solo. His voice matches the song perfectly. It was such a joy to hear him sing.
” is a nice pop song with Libera sounds. It was nice, but somehow I expected it to be more spectacular. So, a little bit, tiny disappointment this time.
” was another hammer (if it could be said so). One of the highlights for me. Alex G. just perfect on his solo. The whole choir building up the tension in amazing harmonies as the song developed – just spectacular. Goosebumps and tears immediately.
Now it was time for “Smile
”. It is incredible what Gabe and Alessandro plus the rest of Libera made out of this tune. I liked the song from the first time I heard it in Ely. Now again it was so good and Gabe and Alessandro just outstanding.
” was the last song of the official set list. Again a must for a Libera concert and again a “normal” (=outstanding) quality. Alex G and Rocco were flawless on their solo parts. Again a highlight.
A standing ovation was as natural as no one in the audience could remain seated. After a short while I noticed Robert Prizeman approaching the piano on our left hand side. On the stage there were two boys in front: Gabe on our left and Leo on our right, both illuminated by strong white spotlights. The rest of the choir remained in the back in the shadow. A magical moment as the biggest surprise of the evening began. The first encore was “Do Not Sand At My Grave And Weep
”. It was incredibly sung by Gabe. So moving, so emotional. Leo sang the second part and harmonized with Gabe excellently. And only the piano sound with Robert Prizeman playing himself. Just magical, incredible, very moving. Such a surprise! Just a piano and two boys. Unforgettable.
There was a long applause again, which soon ended as the second encore was about to begin. I was sure it would be “Exultate”, because the flutist and the percussionist had climbed up on the stage. But it was not! Libera sang “In Dulci Jubilo
” – a joyful Christmas song.
My first thought was “I want more!” as the concert finally came to an end. This was a great experience indeed. Definitely worth coming a long way from Poland.
At the end I’d like to point out my highlights. This is not an easy task, as I liked all the songs very much and actually almost all of them deserve to be listed as highlights. After a careful considerations I decided to choose the following:
- “Do Not Stand …” - perfectly performed by Gabe with Leo’s support and only Robert Prizeman at the piano. Gabe’s voice was so moving, so perfectly balanced. Leo added brilliant harmonies to the song and he was singing so flawlessly and naturally. And the piano sound as the only accompaniment for the two voices. These all together plus lighting focused on the two singers with the rest of the choir remaining back in the shadow resulted in an incredible performance which instantly gave me goosebumps and brought to tears. To be honest, the song “Do Not Stand …” itself does not belong to my favorites, so putting it as the first highlight of this concert really does mean something.
- "I Am The Day” – just wonderful.
- Alex G’s solos on “How Great Thou Art”, “I Am The Day” , “Wayfaring Stranger” and “Libera”. I am really happy to have heard Alex’s wonderful performances before his voice break. His speaking voice is quite low now, so I’m afraid, his deep, powerful and confident treble/alto voice will not last for very long. I was putting my eye on Alex quite often and I was amazed by his focusing, reliability and professionalism during the whole concert. Alex is certainly one of the most important choir members now.
- Rocco’s performance of “Angele Dei”, “Amazing Grace” and “Libera”. Rocco has an intriguing, a bit mat yet strong and clear voice, which now got deeper and more powerful. It was a real pleasure to hear and watch him sing.
- Leo and Taichi singing flawlessly the highest parts and obviously enjoying the performance.
This was my second Libera concert. After the first one, in Ely this spring, I was a bit sad not having remembered so many details. This time it was much better, though I still don’t remember as much as I’d like to. The second thing I noticed was, that now, the concert did not came to an end as fast, as it seemed to me at the first time.
The next concert will be hopefully Ely in May 2018. I already look forward to it very much.
Thank you for reading.
I'd like also to thank filiarheni for some inspirations and encouraging me regarding this review.