BACK in the “old days”, men in flat caps and their wives would gather around the piano in the local pub and sing songs like Knees up mother Brown.
It became a quasi-religion for the masses after a back-breaking day at the factory or “down pit”.
Society and pubs have changed in the intervening years, but one thing hasn’t – we all still love a good singalong.
On Tuesday night the Freo pub choir came out of hiatus to perform a rousing version of Beds are Burning at the Navy Club.
There was a slightly cathartic air to the performance as locals emerged from lockdown and released all the nervous tension that had built up over the last few months.
Choir coordinator Victoria Wyatt says the concept is simple: anyone can turn up and learn a classic and then belt it out at the end of the night.
“We learn one song a night, starting with a rendition of the radio version we all know and love,” she says.
“We then split people into three groups melody, high harmony and low harmony and start learning the new bits.
“By the end of the night our choir master Aidan d’Adhemar has taught us a whole new version of the song.
“Aidan writes all of the harmonies himself, so it is usually pretty damn special.
“People start really timidly, but by the end of the night people are singing at the top of their lungs.”
Wyatt formed the choir about two years ago after watching thousands of people sing a moving version of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in a beautiful old factory in Canada.
“It made all my arm hairs stand on end and I remember thinking I wanted to recreate that kind of feeling in Australia.”
After a few false starts the pub choir became a hit with Freo locals and went from strength to strength, eventually nailing down a weekly Tuesday night spot at the Navy Club.
About 50 people turn up most weeks and learn classics by a diverse range of artists including Crowded House, INXS, Guns N’ Roses and Aretha Franklin.
“No one is safe!” laughs Wyatt. “Our most recent song was Midnight Oil Beds are Burning, but we try and cross many genres, to keep people interested and on their toes. We have tackled Girls and Boys by Blur, a few different R.E.M songs, Free Falling by Tom Petty, Islands in the Stream by Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton, probably over one hundred songs by now.”
When people rocked up on Tuesday it got quite emotional.
“Getting back together to sing again after about three months apart was such a great feeling. The Navy Club is a wonderful base as it has such a friendly and old school atmosphere.
“It seems like people really missed it, and all I wanted to do was give them hugs as they walked in, but of course we are not quite at that stage yet.”
The Sing!Sing!Sing! Freo pub choir meet every Tuesday night at the Fremantle Navy Club on High Street.
For more details email victoria@ studiovictor.com.au