I have never been a great fan of MoTab. For some reason the endless rows of smiling, singing faces - how do they do that? - before the enormous organ pipes reminds me of that Planet of the Apes movie, where radiation-mutated humans prey to a nuclear weapon.
Regardless last night was an utterly professional run through Christmas hymns, with Michael York adding his slightly frayed tones narrating a curiously flat tale of Welshman John Parry, who apparently helped found MoTab. Then there was an extraordinarily over-the-top and poorly executed array of sugar plum fairies and 19th century-dressed figures from the lids of Christmas candy boxes running around the various levels of the stages and the aisles in a dispiriting imitation of a Broadway show.
Besides so much artificiality, Archuleta provided an admirable beacon of sincerity. Nervously gushing about his awe at being there, giving the discretest - and sweetest - little wave to friends or family in the front, he belted out hymns with a voice that cut through the typically staid conference center with admirable clarity, pitch and confidence.
In all that over-production, Archuleta turned out to be the rarest of gifts in a season usually studied with the fake and insincere: something real, tangible and, even for a crusty old cynic like myself, touchingly recalling Christmas' past when carols, sung with feeling, could still stir one's heart.