This concert recording of the musical highlights the high quality of the music and lyrics perfectly and acts as a good reminder of the talent involved with British musicals.
Recorded live last November when the show put on three concert performances for audiences to watch at home, this concert recording captures the diversity of characters and stories that this musical covers.
First seen at the Southwark Playhouse in 2019, FIVER the Musical is about the journey of a five pound note as it travels around London – exchanging hands with a number of ordinary people from all types of backgrounds. Co-written by Alex James Ellison (who also features on this recording) and Tom Lees, it is a smart and affectionate musical – as the music and lyrics prove.
Cleverly put together, each song really highlights the thoughts and feelings that can emerge from a simple action of handing over a fiver or being used in someway. It captures just how a five pound note is more than just simply money – it has the ability to help and used to express something. This is really heard on songs such as ‘A Fiver’s Destiny’ (which has several different renditions) and ‘Gotta Keep My Head Down’ – both highlighting just how a five pound note can make a difference in someone’s life no matter how big or small.
But more than this, each song is filled with a distinct personality musically reflecting not only the diversity of the characters but also the different dynamics of the stories that are being told. In particular, with songs such as ‘My Day’ and ‘Cash Won’t Be Missed’ (which seems odd to listen to at the moment given that cash isn’t being used anywhere) are both at different spectrums musically and yet despite the differences they work perfectly in the same show.
The whole show has such as simple concept about it that is also reflected well in the songs – I loved the folksy style of songs such as ‘Change is Bringing me Down’ that highlights the strong storytelling at the centre of this cast recording and show as a whole. Elsewhere, the edginess of ‘Letter 5’ makes a striking contrast to the heartfelt ‘I’ll Write a Song For You’ – really showcasing how the show is going on a journey musically as well as in terms of the narrative.
Meanwhile, with stellar performances from Alex James Ellison , Luke Bayer, Aoife Clesham, Dan Buckley (F, and Hiba Elchikhe, you can tell the strength of the connection between them and the characters whose stories they are bringing to life. Each song is easy to listen to and engage with thanks to them.
Throughout the entire album there is a fabulous energy and I’m really pleased that they were able to record this and introduce this musical to new audiences who may not have experienced it live (although you can catch the concert performances on demand via the Southwark Playhouse website). Worth listening to if you are looking to discover a new musical filled with charm.
By Emma Clarendon