Edinburgh Fringe 2009
Great a cappella singing, slick choreography and dazzling smiles from this 14 strong group from Oxford who fuse outrageous dance and clever mime as they walk you through a selection of songs from the last 40 years.
A wet Sunday afternoon at the Fringe. Nothing planned, but then someone shoves a brochure into my hands entreating me to come along and listen to a boy band. Boy band? I am a bloke who’s not going to see 50 again. Why on earth would I want to see a boy band?
But this is not a boy band in the true sense of the term. For a start there are 14 of them, all students from Oxford. And, unlike most boy bands, they don’t vanish into thin air after a couple of forgettable numbers. We had a full hour of close harmony singing and slick choreography. This is also a band that have to continually refresh themselves; they are students so after 3 years they get a degree in something and leave. One of the interesting things about this group, though, is that the outgoing members audition potential newcomers, ensuring that the group stays true to its amateur roots whilst maintaining the highest professional standards in terms of musical delivery and presentation.
So what are they like? Those of you old enough to remember the Flying Pickets (1980’s for those of a younger disposition reading this) will have a good grasp of their style. Vocal percussion and four part backing harmonies carefully support each lead male singer. Their vocal range is impressive, although counter tenor leads tend to get swamped by their supporters on occasion. But there’s so much else going on in front of you that you barely notice. Choreography is tight, very well rehearsed and genuinely amusing. Lead singers are many and varied and universally talented.
After the first few rousing numbers whipped the audience into something of a frenzy of appreciation, I wondered if these guys were just one-trick ponies. But no, they slowed it down and did a couple of tender ballads to great effect before spicing up the audience with a marvellous parody of Sex Bomb, a song normally associated with that soon to be septuagenarian, Tom Jones. And when Sir Tom sings this number, ladies of almost any age are prone to lob their nether garments in his direction. Nothing so untoward happened here, Fringe audiences are apparently a little more inhibited (or refined) but, lads, your time will come.
A couple more rousing numbers and we were done, far too soon for the packed audience, mainly from the fairer sex it has to be said. But the old adage is to leave folks wanting more and there is no doubt that Out of the Blue did that. Perfect harmonies, perfect timing, perfect movement. Perfect entertainment. Go and see it especially as any profits accruing from this storming performance are going to Helen & Douglas House, a hospice in Oxford providing care for children and young adults.