Reverend Billy & The Stop Shopping Choir: EARTHALUJAH! creates a southern USA-style, baptist gospel worship experience in Bonython Hall at the RCC.
However, in this show, what is being worshipped is Gaia (or Earth/Mother Nature) and what is being condemmed is consumerism and its “evil” leader, Disney.
The swirling sounds and passions are fervent and rich with earnestness. The infectious bass lines, powerful voices, modulating moods, and the dazzling colour and animation of the players hold our attention and carry us on a sensory journey.
However, this show, is produced by an activist community and, as such, the zeal for preaching the message does come at the cost of appealing and entertaining storytelling.
While this is understandable, given the lateness of the hour for Gaia and all of us, it does risk relegating the Stop Shopping Choir to preaching to the choir.
And maybe that’s okay. Maybe there is a need for fellow activits to come and just hear what they want and need to hear to refuel the fire in their bellies before returning to the marketplace of ideas.
This creates an intriguing parallel between this “gospel” outfit and traditional ones, considering that in most of these churches, congregations are not exposed to anything new but rather they attend for a spiritual “top up”.
There is no doubt that Rev Billy highlights concerning developments in society such as the normalisation of consumerism and the lip service most corporations are giving to the issue.
Will Rev Billy’s plea for attendees to develop creative, non-violent activism work? That remains to be seen.
Will this show produce converts? Unlikely.
What is guaranteed is that you will experience some stunning singing and if you are a non-theist this will be a joyful, simple way to experience the fruits of the gospel choir genre driving a life-centric rather than deity-centric message.