NEWCASTLE CATHEDRAL is set to be the unlikely setting next weekend for a concert by the 1970s teen idols the Osmonds.
The cathedral stepped in at the last minute after technical problems hit the original venue, Newcastle City Hall. “We were happy to help out,” said Kate Sussams, director of operations for the Chapter. “We have a good working relationship with promoters in the city, and when they came to us at short notice we were happy to oblige.
“We are trying to expand our ability to stage big events like this, so it is a good opportunity for us; but this is the first time we have been involved in a national event.”
The Osmonds began as a barbershop quartet consisting of teenage brothers Alan, Wayne, Merrill, and Jay. They were later joined by younger siblings Donny and Jimmy to become a pop sensation in the mid-1970s. Their sister, Marie, also performed, and together and singly they have produced about 200 albums.
These days, the Osmonds are fast approaching pensionable age. Donnie, aged 61, pursues a solo career, and the group is reduced to a duo of Merrill, now aged 65, and Jay, 62, with supporting musicians. Jimmy, 55, occasionally joins them. This tour included dates in Perth, Skegness and Morecambe, before moving on to Scandinavia.
Newcastle Cathedral can accommodate an audience of 800, but they have limited facilities, and the concert promoters have agree to provide extras, such as security. They will also have to create the set for the show. “It will take them about half-a-day to set up,” said Ms Sussams. “It was fortunate we had a slot available, so nothing has had to be postponed to make way for them.
“However, it is a Saturday-night show. They have been told we must have the cathedral back ready for our first service at 8 a.m. on Sunday morning.”
Forty years ago, a concert by the group would have attracted thousands of screaming teenage girls. Ms Sussams, who admits she was once an Osmond fan, said that on Saturday they expected “an audience mainly from the blue-rinse brigade”.
She said that the cathedral had been asked whether it was appropriate to host a pop concert, especially by artists who proclaim their Mormon faith; but she reported that they were comfortable with the Osmonds’ visit. “We don’t expect them to start preaching.”