Sister Act

Sister Act at Peterborough Cathedral

Well what a week! Sister Act at Peterborough Cathedral was yet another fantastic show from Peterborough Operatic Society – somehow managing to top the last. This is the second show I have played for the group, and definitely presented more of a challenge than Shrek last year, especially going straight into it from a week of Made in Dagenham at the Cresset. I had flipped through the score once before band call and played a few of the trickier or more exposed sections in odd moments here and there, but knew I would have to rely heavily on my sight reading to get me though band call. Thankfully I don’t think I embarrassed myself too much…

MT is a great way of getting to grips with lots of different styles of playing and this was my first serious foray into Disco; there’s a hint of what you’re in for when the first instruction is “+wah”. There are a few stylistic cues throughout, ‘a la Walter Becker ‘and ‘BB King’, both in the song ‘When I Find my Baby’ and the ubiquitous ‘shaft clicks’ on wah in quite a few spots. The expression pedal definitely got more of a workout in this show than it has for a while! There is a fair bit of ‘comping’ in the show and I found this one of the bigger challenges as few voicings were given other than the occasional top note to be played. This definitely provided some food for thought and I probably played through most songs twice (band call and tech) before I had decided on the best way to voice all the comped sections. ‘It’s Good to be Nun’ was quite the opposite however. This song called for ‘cheery folk strumming’ so I defaulted back to open ‘cowboy chords’. I hope the MD realised this was for effect rather than lack of knowledge but he grinned at me during this cue so I think he got it.

The score calls for electric, nylon and steel acoustic. As there were no exposed moments on either acoustic I opted to spoof this on the Line 6 Helix with the Boss acoustic sim running into an IR. Effects were fairly minimal with a Cry Baby, Chorus and Tube Screamer running into the front end of a Roland Jazz Chorus with Delay and Reverb in the loop. A gain block cut the signal into the acoustic sim when this was activated to reduce clipping when strumming with any vigour. I have to say that adding the 112 Powercab to my rig has been a revelation after initially struggling to bond with the Helix, with everything feeling very sterile through headphones or monitor speakers. The Powercab has returned the sustain and feel of playing with an amp in the room and, while it will never match up to a real amp, the versatility and simplicity afforded by the Helix is worth the sacrifice in this setting. I always joke that the speaker is for the guitar, not for me and it really is true!

All in all a great show for me. Steve (MD) always puts a great band together and I feel privileged to be part of it. Even better, my Disco chops have improved greatly. Is it finally time to start that Chic cover band?





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