February 14, 2011
Oh I'm a sucker for this kind of thing. The close-harmonies, the hissing brush sticks, the tasteful use of the trombone, a pianist that coquettishly turns over his shoulder at certain intervals, the tall guy that sings the highest parts... not to mention the promise of matching beige suits - it's exactly the reason men get dragged sulking into Jersey Boys but come out punching the air with delight. Everyone loves a vocal harmony group, but a really good one can be a revelation, and The Harmonics are a really good vocal harmony group. So good that I felt the need to both bold and italic the word "really". They're really pushing the limits of my formatting hyperbole. I'll have to start underlining next.
Comprised of former members of award winning vocal groups The Oxford Gargoyles and Out of the Blue, The Harmonics seem like a bit of an a capella super-group - something that became increasingly clear as we watched them on Friday afternoon. Route 66 proved to be a great introduction to the group, their voices gradually pealing off each other before breaking into an arrangement that displayed a lightness of touch and subtle humour that won us over in moments. It wouldn't have mattered if their next two numbers were consecutive, screeching renditions of Single Ladies, pretty much anything would have been forgivable after that first song. Thankfully, though their set can include quirky re-workings of modern numbers, the Harmonics kept things suitably sepia toned for the rest of their audition with A Nightingale Sang In Berkeley Square and Chattanooga ChooChoo.
By then, if there were glazed expressions on the faces of their audience, it was only because we were imagining Blitz Parties, Prohibition Nights and all manner of early 20th Century themed gatherings in which you could conceivably book a vocal harmony group like The Harmonics. With a repertoire straddling the '20s to the '50s, Glenn Miller to Stevie Wonder, Frank Sinatra to Van Morrison and even taking in a few Jazz Standards, they'd be equally suited to a jazz handed-Charleston-ing as they would be to being swooned over by American Teens at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance... or something to that effect.