Fourth Time Is Still Charming With Straight No Chaser

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Straight No Chaser at the Fox Theatre, St. Louis 12/11/14 Photo by Jeff Ritter

There’s only one thing better than happy hour after a long, difficult day at work and that is going to the Happy Hour Tour of Straight No Chaser at the Fabulous Fox Theatre. I’ve seen the boys from Indiana University four times now, and I take a little something different from each show. I expect the next four times I see them will be just as entertaining.

Who needs four lads from Liverpool when you have ten from America? Steve Morgan, Tyler Trepp, Seggie Isho, Don Nottingham, Walter Chase, Jerome Collins, Charlie Mechling, Michael Luginbill, David Roberts and Randy Stine (who has ties to Kirkwood, MO, which always gets the St. Louis fans excited) first came to St. Louis five years ago, playing what I consider to be the most ridiculous venue in town: above the bar at Harrah’s Casino. Since then they’ve made the Fox Theatre a regular stop every winter, and why wouldn’t they? They’ve sold out three years running now, often in the face of serious local competition—the hometown Rams hosted the Arizona Cardinals for the NFL Network tonight, and a couple of years ago they were in town during the St. Louis Cardinals’ miraculous World Series against the Texas Rangers. They were kind enough to keep us updated during that show, but the Rams are on their way to their 11th straight losing record so tonight was all about their music.

Every time they come, the show is a little different. They’ll add a couple of new songs to their repertoire, they’ll tell some fresh anecdotes and they’ll give poor Walter a good natured ribbing about his Jewish heritage during their Christmas songs segment. He’s a good sport though. Tonight featured a song you’d think I’d be tired of by now (but I’m not) with Pharrell Williams’ “Happy,” and a song I am very tired of but they performed beautifully: “Let It Go” from Disney’s animated hit “Frozen.” They also managed to sneak in the biggest earworm going right now in Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass (No Treble).” Frankly it’s not a bad song, but every time I hear even a little of it I spend the next 12 hours repeating that chorus over and over. Straight No Chaser, as they do so well, put their own little twist on it, going with “It’s all about that bass, about that bass, about that bass, NO TENORS!” Of course, the tenors feigned disappointment at their low range singers’ vocal jabs, but let’s be honest, fellas, you do get the lion’s share of the spotlight. Might I suggest giving the throaty ones a medley of their own one of these days? Perhaps something built on the work of one of the best deep voices in American music history, the late great Johnny Cash?

Of course the perennial favorites were on display once again too. Four years running and I’m still not tired of their “Poison/Billie Jean” mash-up. I also enjoy their light-hearted parody of classic movie soundtrack songs, which they didn’t do this time. Instead they put famous musicals through the ringer, underscoring the various problems with some of the biggest shows going, many of which happened to be Andrew Lloyd Webber shows and all of which I quite agreed with. They also spoofed The Nutcracker with a hilariously accurate male perspective on the “beloved” (quotes for sarcasm) ballet. They ended their show with the number that made them famous—their dysfunctional rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.”  As a special bonus for the St. Louis audience, they also dropped the mics and let their unamplified and beautifully soulful voices ring throughout the Fox Theatre with their rendition of “O Holy Night” featuring Jerome on lead.

Five times they’ve come to town, and four times I’ve enjoyed them immensely. Next year will be no exception. You have a lot of great choices for holiday entertainment in the St. Louis area, including the brilliant All Is Calm, an a cappella musical about the Christmas Truce of World War I that I think the Straight No Chaser fellows would greatly enjoy themselves. Maybe next year their timing will be such that they can fit a visit to the Mustard Seed Theatre in before packing the Fabulous Fox for a fourth time in a row. If for some reason you haven’t seen Straight No Chaser yet, you are missing out on one of the most fun concert experiences you will ever have, provided you’re in your seat on time—I’m sure traffic was tough with the football game down the street but you do not want to get Jerome fired up because he will call you out in the middle of a song. He’s cool like that. Be there or be mocked, but be there any way you can. 

Grade: 
5.0 / 5.0