It’s an ironclad rule of rock&roll that anything involving a children’s chorus is a bad idea. From “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” to the Clash’s remake of “Career Opportunities,” the results are usually mawkish at best and disastrous at worst.
But not last night, at Crowded House’s show at Irving Plaza. The PS 22 Chorus, from an elementary school in northwest Staten Island, has made something of a name for itself by performing wonderful arrangements of contemporary pop hits, and has performed them with stars like Tori Amos. And last night they opened for Crowded House.
The kids came out and did a couple of songs on their own, under the direction of the teacher, Gregg Breinberg, and then Neil Finn came out, grinning from ear to ear and applauding, and the rest of the band joined him, and they did two more songs. The version of “Throw Your Arms Around Me” they did is beyond description — it’s a beautiful song to begin with, but the kids clearly love it and get it.
Best of all, these are NYC kids. They didn’t turn it into weepy sentimentality Kodak-moment crap. They were funny and they had attitude and one girl stepped out to lead a song and when the audience failed to sing along properly on the first try she gave us all a look that would have peeled paint, and everyone sang along the next time.
Watching these kids — and their teacher — gave me some hope for my home borough, which is not something I say very often. If a Tori-phile choir director is getting his kids to do things like this, then things have obviously changed.