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Edinburgh Fringe 2016

Countermeasure : 14 Characters


Genre: A Cappella, Live Music

Venue: theSpaceUK Triplex


Low Down

Uplifting music from a bunch of real characters and very talented singers


The Fringe is awash with a cappella groups, or so it seems. I can’t emerge from my reviewer’s lair at Fringe Central without being assailed by absolutely charming young people thrusting flyers into my hands, imploring me to come and here something by In and Out, Upside Down, Back To Front or some other cutely entitled ensemble.

Don’t get me wrong, there is some fantastic music to be had from what are always well-drilled, well-presented four part harmony groups. But it’s all a bit, well, beige. The comfortable and the familiar pleasantly repackaged to the point where many of the tunes start to sound the same.

But do your research and you can find ensemble offering music more interesting than a common time rehash of a tune that wasn’t that memorable in the first place. And in Countermeasure I hit the jackpot. Six men and eight ladies provided an hour of music that was innovative, harmonically testing and, at times, wonderfully daring.

Aaron Jensen is the creative genius behind this Canadian based troupe and their concert showcased a number of his compositions including Fox In The Field, a real stand out with its intriguing harmonies and interesting 9/8 time signature section. Jensen is no slouch either when it comes to arranging covers. A wonderful take on Duke Ellington’s “Take The A Train” formed the backing to a short animated film about, well, a train and there was an engagingly quirky interpretation of “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”.

But what on earth were they doing getting three members of the audience up on the stage? Had these guys been auditioned? Could they harmonise? Turned out that this was an excuse for a bit of improv as, given a combination of names, hobbies and work occupation, they improvised lyrics to that Manilow hit, “Copacabana”. Very clever and refreshingly different.

Finishing up with a brief homage to Scotland with, what else, that Proclaimer’s classic, “I Gonna Be (500 Miles)”, this was an hour of uplifting music from a bunch of real characters and very talented singers.