Give me a ukulele and I’ll play you any song you like

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain – Konzerthaus, Dortmund; February 28th, 2023

I had heard about the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain and, being a ukulele player myself, was curious about them. So when I learned they were going to play in Dortmund, I grabbed a ticket immediately. That turned out to be a great decision and a very entertaining evening.

Having seats was nice for a change and I got there just a little before the show started. The orchestra was made up of seven people – three women and four men and during the evening they took us on a ride through all types of music.

They started with ‘Devil’s Gallop’, a tune that as I learned later, was the theme song for a 70s British TV series. It definitely sounded great. Will greeted us all, joking his trousers had come back from the dry cleaners too small and thus he needed to make adjustments to the next song – it was ‘Kiss’. 😀 and he sang high indeed. Leisa told us it was “great to back in Europe where you have fresh fruit and vegetables”. Because she loves dogs, the next song was about cats, ‘Lovecats’ that is. I was already in loves – it’s fascinating what a wide range of music can be played on ukuleles and it was so much fun to hear their takes on songs.

One of them told us about learning German from Television and then recited an ad. 😀 They were very funny overall and made us laugh all the time. Next up  ‘Life on Mars?’ mixed with ‘For Once in my Life’ – this should not remain the only time they sang different songs in parallel.

THey announced the Blues, which was not America, but the longer and more boring 32 bar British blue, for which they needed a sopranino ukulele. They had dubbed it “Nacktschnecke” (slug), for the slow song to follow, taht turned out to be ‘Limehouse Blues’ and wasn’t slow at all.

When asked why he plays the ukulele, Ben regularly replies with “Baby, I was born this way” and we got a killer version of ‘Born this way’. Leisa wanted to play us a song in celebration of ukulele women and asked if there were other women players in the house. There were quite a few of us. The song that followed was ‘Dancing Barefoot’ – beautiful.

It was time for some funk with ‘Play that funky music’, followed by some country / bluegrass music with ‘OLd HomePlace’. Will asked to get up and stretch his legs, was told not to draw attention to himself and of course did just that – ministry of silly walks anyone? 😀

Any people with long beards were told to swing them for the next song, ‘Gimme all your lovin’. I didn’t see anyone actually doing it, but there was a nice clap-along going with extra cheers for Jonty on bass. Thus ended the first set.

Set two started with wind like whistling and ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ – it was fantastic. Laura announced that as the only Scottish member of the orchestra, she felt she needed to bring some culture “so here is a song by an Italian”. It was the brilliant ‘Pencil full of lead’. I think it was Jonty who told us the next song would be about an ewe and a yew, two words pronounced the same, but with different meanings. We all laughed when it turned out to be ‘Only you’. 🙂

‘Teenage Dirtbag’ was next, with a good sing along. Then we go one “for all you lovers out there – it won’t last” 😀 – it was a brilliant version of ‘Dreams’. Then Jonty announced they were practicing something special for the Konzerthaus, but it was only Ben, Will and him, so the others could take a break. They did and walked/danced around behind them during the entire song, which was quite hilarious. The song as something classical, but I don’t know what it was.

Everyone was back in their seats for ‘Song 2’, “woo-hoo”s included. the “lovely song with five beats to the bar” turned out to be ‘Orange Blossom Special’ and bloody hell that was fast. It got really funny when will got up with the ukulele and then was joined, first by Hester and Leila, then Peter and Ben, all playing on that one uke. It was fascinating. In the end, Laura got up and took the uke away from them. 😀

They asked us to join them for the following song and wave our phone lights in rhythm to ‘Thank you for the Music’ – of course we did. It must have looked beautiful from the stage. When we all cheered in the end, Leila told us we were better than Düsseldorf. :)’Leaning on the Lamp Post’ was another fun one with a great clap-along.

They bowed and we cheered wildly until they promised to play one more. Each one of them now told us what they intended to play as the last song: Some Georg Friedrich Händel, Frank Sinatra, Gloria Gaynor, Pussycat Dolls and more. They decided to compromise which meant they combined all the songs into one piece. Ben started playing Händel, then Peter sang ‘Fly me to the Moon’ over it and Jonty chimed in with ‘Where do I begin’. Then Leila added ‘Don’t cha’, Laura sang ‘Killing me softly’, Will sang ‘Hotel California’ and finally Hester added ‘I will survive’. I’m not sure I assigned every sog to he right person, but it might have been the most amazing thing I have ever heard.

They deserved the standing ovations and came back for one last song – ‘Highway to Hell’. It was the perfect ending o a great show, with another chance to clap along. What a great night.


Devil’s Gallop (Paul Williams and Charles Fox)
Kiss (Prince)
Lovecats (The Cure)
Life on Mars? (David Bowie) / For Once in my life
Limehouse Blues (Philip Braham)
Born This Way (Lady Gaga)
Dancing Barefoot (Patti Smith Group)
Play That Funky Music (Wild Cherry)
Old Home Place (Robert Earl Keen)
Gimme All Your Lovin’ (ZZ Top cover)

Set 2
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (Ennio Morricone)
Pencil Full of Lead (Paolo Nutini)
Only you (The Platters)
Teenage Dirtbag (Wheatus)
Dreams (The Cranberries)
Song 2 (Blur)
Orange Blossom Special (Johnny Cash)
Thank You for the Music (ABBA cover)
Leaning on a Lamp Post (George Formby)
Fly Me Off the Handel (George Friedrich Händel / Fly Me To The Moon / Where do I begin / Don’t Cha / I will survive / Hotel California / Killing Me Softly)

Highway to Hell (AC/DC cover)

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