The 11 women, looking like your favourite Quality Streets in elaborately sculpted head-wraps, ankle-length dresses and high heels, get straight in there, with the first of many up-tempo, traditional Nigerian hymns. Behind this incandescent front line, a drummer, bassist, keyboardist and assorted percussionists, all gamely attempt to make enough noise to cut through the choir's tinny din, but merely sound like a party rumbling away next door.
Madam Bola, their leader, who's been doing this for 25 years, paces up and down gesticulating and - as you would imagine - praising the Lord. But most of the audience in the two-thirds-empty auditorium might as well have been watching Newsnight for all the effect she seems to have on them. Eventually they get their butts into gear for a song or two, but then the moment passes, and the audience apologetically fall back into their seats, possibly stunned into submission by Bola's distorted and therefore indecipherable preaching, which increasingly takes priority over her singing as the evening goes on.
Following one too many false endings, and a completely uncalled for encore, I follow the example of others and leave. The Yoruba Women's Choir may have more than 50 albums under their belt, but they should take a leaf from Al Green's book and, when preaching to the unconverted, save the patter for the pulpit. That way they could stand a slim chance of winning over a sinner or two by osmosis. Howard MaleReuse content