Try this experiment: take an everyday phrase like ‘Please could you direct me to the nearest Post Office’ and sing it using the first melody that comes into your head. Now add a 100-piece rock orchestra. That, to me, is the essence of ‘Chess in Concert’, a musical based loosely on the 1986 theatrical show which centres on two international chess bouts and the accompanying political and romantic shenanigans. But you’d have thought that with Abba’s Benny and Björn writing the music, Tim Rice’s commonplace lyrics would have been given a more melodic twist than regular collaborator Andrew Lloyd Webber could ever muster. You’d be wrong. Aside from the 1984 hit ‘One Night in Bangkok’, the vast majority of this interminably long filmed version of last year’s Albert Hall shindig is given over to a raft of unhummable notes picked seemingly at random, with several trite rock-combo songs squashed in between. It’s all so corny and soulless. I can see the appeal to fans of the show, but it just doesn’t justify a big-screen outing.
Friday September 4 2009