The lack of atmosphere could certainly not have been attributed to the setting. The Wesley Memorial Church was tastefully cast in blue and green lights, and somehow managed to be both big enough to inspire and small enough to be personal. Nor was it the lack of technical skill on the part of the singers; a very impressive a cappella rendition of Hallelujah demonstrated the presence of some highly skilful singers indeed. So what was it?
Perhaps the acoustics, or the microphones, let the choir down. When Gospel music works it seems to fill the entire room, and it is possible that the music simply wasn't loud or full enough.
Or maybe it was the accompanying African drums. I can see the good intention, but for me it just seemed out of place, and simply served to disturb the harmony. Against all expectation the drums worked less well then the rapper they had in a couple of years back. I certainly preferred rapper Mr ShaoDow's odd combination of Gospel and rap to the forced marrying of Gospel and Latin music in one of the numbers. Well...I guess it's all a matter of personal taste.
To their credit the Oxford Gospel Choir did put in the effort when doing the all-important task of trying to stir up the crowd. With great effort they did manage to get us standing, swaying and clapping on a couple of occasions. When that happened I got a tiny tease of how good Gospel can really be. Also, though some of the soloists underperformed, some were absolutely fantastic. Tamsin Greenway and Laura Capillaire were particularly impressive; and when they sang one really was properly uplifted.
I'm really very sorry I had to write a critical review. I know that the Oxford Gospel choir have it in them; I've seen them perform brilliantly in the past. But I'm afraid that this particular showing was a definite disappointment. So I eagerly await next year, when hopefully they will be back on form.