A band of choir singers are giving a fresh voice to the Capital’s most common groans, with the vocalists proving to be one of the surprise hits of the Festival.
The Complaints Choir of Edinburgh sung their hearts out yesterday surrounded by hundreds of commuters at Waverley Station.
They followed that up with a 15-minute performance outside the Scottish Parliament, delivering a reminder of the delays and costly overruns dogging the £776 million trams project for any politicians willing to listen.
The choristers completed five rehearsals before performing in public for the first time.
All 13 of their live performances are being staged in some on the city’s busiest locations, including St Andrew Square, George Street and outside the City Chambers.
Composer Daniel Padden said: “Our advert stipulated that all you had to do was have a complaint and be prepared to sing about it. There’s a real mix. There’s a few folk that have already sung in choirs, but there’s a lot who have never sung before, which is great. It’s exactly right for the project.
“This group has been really good, they’ve gelled really well. There’s nothing like complaining to bring a group of people together.”
The choir was formed as part of an art project originally conceived by a pair of Finnish artists, Tellervo Kalleinen and Oliver Kochta Kalleinen.
Hundreds of do-it-yourself choirs have sprung up across the world since 2007 under the nine-step guide they created in cities such as St Petersburg, Tokyo, Chicago and Helsinki.
Fellow composer Peter Nicholson said trams had surprisingly not been the first complaint raised among the group, whose members are aged from their 20s to 60s.
He said: “Weirdly, it didn’t come up in rehearsal, but we assumed it’s because everyone expected someone else to talk about it. But as soon as trams were mentioned, they were off and we had to shut them up. It was like opening up Pandora’s box.
“Our first idea with the trams, because it’s such a well-known public relations disaster in Edinburgh, was just simply going to have the word tram in it and repeat it and not actually have any other lyrics, no explanation because I think that’s all that was necessary.
“We did add some words, but that was the original idea.”
The choir’s next two performances are on Friday at Waverley Station from 5.30pm and on the Grassmarket from 6.15pm.
Calamity tram, tramity tram..
The lyrics to Trams, as performed by the choir:
Sopranos: Huge disruption everywhere
Buses already take us there
Incompetence beyond belief
Digging up the road to Leith
The trams aren’t even going there
The council clearly doesn’t care
Cycle lanes that disappear
Come to a sudden stop
All: Over budget, over time
No money left for alternative
sustainable transport initiatives...
Women: Tramity tram, tramity tram
Calamity tram, tramity tram
Men: Pointless trams, useless trams
Wasted trams, nonsense trams, tram!
The top gripes
The choir’s lyrics give voice to the following maddening complaints:
• Dog fouling
• Stag and hen parties
• People texting while walking
• Drivers parking in cycle lanes
• Potholes in pavements
• Parks closing too early