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Pluckin' great!

PUBLISHED: 15:55 04 June 2008 | UPDATED: 17:16 16 August 2010

YOU can t take yourself too seriously when you spend your evenings playing in a ukulele band, writes Jules Cooper. Fortunately,

YOU can't take yourself too seriously when you spend your evenings playing in a ukulele band, writes Jules Cooper.

Fortunately, the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain were anything but when they performed at Blackheath Concert Halls on May 10.

The group of eight tuxedo-wearing men and women in their early 30s to 50s pulled a packed crowd with their special brand of anti-George Formby ukulele prowess.

The orchestra plays a range of material stretching from Jelly Roll Morton's jazz, rock'n'roll, to an emotional version of Teenage Kicks.

Cracking tongue-in-cheek jokes of a class usually saved for Christmas crackers, the group like to project themselves as jokers of the highest irony.

Of course self-mocking is really the only choice when playing power-ballads on a guitar the size of a slice of toast, but it works and the audience regularly ripple with laughter.

Appropriately, the group's notable number Back in Black(heath) featured a seemingly impossible and certainly improbable ukulele solo.

This was followed with a string of songs 'mixed' into each other.

Throwing no fewer than seven songs into their ukulele melting-pot, it included Sympathy for the Devil, I Believe in Miracles, and a very ridiculous version of Heroes.

I think the 2Many DJs inspired mash-up was the equivalent of DJing for the over 40s.

Despite a surprisingly exciting first half, my interest flagged after the interval.

Amongst others, the orchestra trotted out Dambusters, which I thought was the reserve of tired brass bands, and a Eurovision number.

But they made up for it with some boogie-woogie and the show finished with Should I Stay or Should I Go, before determined audience wooping pulled them back on for two encores.

To see what's on now at the Blackheath Concert Halls visit www.blackheathhalls.com.

jules.cooper@archant.co.uk

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