Bringing some early festive cheer to Bradford, Fairytale of New York showed at St George’s Hall where Leo Owen caught the show

From the producers of the story of The Dubliners, Seven Drunken Nights, Fairytale of New York is a Christmas journey seeped in Irish heritage. More of a concert spectacular than a coherent narrative, creator Ged Graham, loosely links musical numbers through the concept of an imagined return to the emerald island.

Although the title pays homage to the 1987 Christmas hit, aside from a brief tribute to the recently deceased, Shane MacGowan, and the inclusion of the titular song, there’s little else linking the show’s content and The Pogues. Instead the cast of ten, whip through an impressive array of Christmas numbers, from pop classics like Driving home for Christmas, All I Want for Christmas Is You, I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday, Step into Christmas and Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town to the more traditional White Christmas, Winter’s Tale and Silent Night. Intermingled are Irish sing-a-longs, including The Galway Girl, The Irish Rover, Danny Boy and Dirty Old Town. Audience participation is much encouraged by show leads, Adam Evans, Josh Duffy, Ciaran McKenna, Sophie Christine and Ruth Potts.

Musicians are multifaceted, adeptly switching between instruments and roles, but even so are overshadowed by six extremely versatile dancers (Louisa Clark, Elizabeth Pitt, Elfin Bull, Georgia Long, Lydia Baber Day and Amy Pickup), competently showcasing every style imaginable and swiftly undergoing a whole array of glitzy costume changes in front of a video projection of both Irish festive scenes and International snapshots.

Although there’s an array of instruments on stage such as a flute, fiddle, tin whistle and guitar, accompanying instrumentals occasionally seem to be dubbed as are tap noises for some of the dance numbers which slightly detracts from the overall effect. In addition, vocals would have benefited from being further amplified as backing tracks often drown out the singers. That said, the cast are clearly talented and brimming with infectious enthusiasm. Christine’s solo rendition of Oh Holy Night is one of the vocal highlights of the evening.

Where the performance lacks in slickness, it makes up in cheesy gusto: a perfect way to kickstart that festive spirit.

Fairytale of New York showed at St George’s Hall December 7 before continuing its UK tour: