Review: A Night With No Name

A deceptively titled, life-affirming experience back in a venue with others – singing, cheering, clapping and feeling connected again.  If you’ve not been to the theatre since pandemic restrictions were lifted in London I can tell you it’s good for the soul. Taking our seats up in the gallery at Cadogan Hall, squished on pews in that church-like setting we steeled ourselves for loss of personal space and airborne bugs – by the end we were up dancing and singing hallelujahs.

A Night With No Name is a fundraiser for the Choir With No Name, charity choirs involving people who’ve experienced homelessness and marginalisation.

Choir WIth No Name at Cadogan Hall ( Credit: @LouMorrisPhoto)


Sam Chaplin, the infectiously energetic director, rehearsed us, the audience, through our vocal warm up and practice parts of altos, tenors and basses. Yes, we were to be involved in the singing and arm gestures too, as we were encouraged to raise our hands high and higher for Jackie Wilson’s Your Love Keeps Lifting Me. We were lifted, in a singalong, workout and pure joy.

The various Choirs With No Name around the country sing and eat together every week. It’s a powerful combination for stability and a sense of wellbeing for people going through tough times, being among friends who will look out for them and whom they can call family. It’s a place where they can leave their troubles at the door and by putting on barnstorming gigs like this one, can debunk outmoded and stigmatising myths about homeless people. None of this dishing out a service to the “needy”, instead working together to produce warm, fun, joyous gigs and a healthy, sustainable and resilient charitable organisation.

The London choir rehearses every Thursday evening at St Columba’s Church in Knightsbridge, London and you can find out about their gigs and groups all over the country here – Birmingham, Liverpool, Brighton and Cardiff. WIth more to come.

The concert was hosted by the showstopper Mel Giedroyc (with her brother on the keyboards!). Madcap Mel did a great job as MC with her version of stripping the willow among the microphone stands and singing the prizes for the rather good raffle – including tea with her.

Joe Stilgoe, a fantastically entertaining singer and pianist opened the show by playing Cabaret on the Steinway grand with the power of Rachmaninoff. Try and top that already. Then a fun ditty of The King’s New Clothes with the catchy ‘all together’ chorus and a song for the lonely times we’ve spent in lockdown with the Wichita Lineman.

The star quality that is actor Jonathan Bailey read from James Bowen’s book A Street Cat Named Bob: How one man and his cat found hope on the streets. It was very moving, and then he left, or so we thought until the finale and he jumped up on stage and sang with the choir. That we’d have loved to hear him singing Getting Married Today from Company we’ll just have to wait a bit longer for.

Jonathan Bailey Mel Giedroyc (Photo by Lou Morris)

The gloriously diverse Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir had the power to raise the ceiling and the soloists voices could have reached right into the heavens.

This was the Choir WIth No Name’s night, though. There wouldn’t have been a dry eye in the house when members of the choir came forward to sing solos, to read poems and to talk powerfully about the value of singing in cleansing the soul and helping with recovery from homelessness. All abilities in singing, life experience and struggle, and that’s the point, everyone should have a voice and we heard these voices loud and clear.

Covid protections such as the ‘Everyone In’ scheme, the eviction ban, played a vital role in keeping people in their homes and suppressing homelessness during the pandemic. Now Shelter is warning with these protections gone, living costs soaring and this uncertain winter, there is a risk of the flood gates reopening and thousands more people losing their homes. Shelter’s detailed analysis of official rough-sleeping and temporary accommodation figures shows that one in every 206 people in England are currently without a home. This has to stop.

You’d certainly never ask is my name on the list, no, this has everyone’s name on it.

Text CHOIRFIVE to 70085 to donate £5