Fresh from their recent success at the Gala, the a cappella group Northern Lights gave another stunning performance, this time at the Boat Club. Doing the same repertoire meant that it was very polished and it became clear that they had worked on some of the suggested improvements which arose out of the Gala show. It’s testament to their constructive attitude and thirst for proficiency that they can produce such high levels of quality in just their third year of existence.
Balance was almost always spot on, although there were points where they could benefit from a louder bass line. Having said that, during ‘You Give Love a Bad Name’ by Bon Jovi there was a tricky bass ostinato which went very fast but was handled competently and loudly by the basses. This vibrant number got the audience clapping. Oscar’s solos stood as the highlights of the show; his wonderful tone and wide vocal range stunned the audience, whilst his rap entertained everyone, including the performers.
The articulation of words was almost immaculate throughout although during some solos clarity of diction sometimes suffered. However, this was compensated for by fantastic stage presence and good tone, which suited the pop music aesthetic. Another stand-out performance was Oliver Higgins during ‘The Man That Can’t be Moved’ by the Script. His striking voice and lyrical phrasing perfectly suited the moving character of the song which, when combined with some interesting underlying harmony, proved to be very effective.
Despite occasional faulty intonation from the soprano section, the singers stayed consistently in tune even without the aid of instrumental accompaniment. They also regulated tempo well, never accelerating or decelerating unintentionally. Moreover, they consistently came off and on of phrases together; a huge difficulty without a conductor. Congratulations must also be given to Maddy Wattles for her two solos which showcased an impressive mediation between the higher and lower register with extreme ease.
Another highlight was their rendition of Jackson’s ‘A Place With No Name’ which, despite being slightly too low for the soloist, was very enjoyable for its complex syncopated rhythms which were handled well by the singers. It also featured a polished polyphonic section which exchanged a tricky motif between voices and a dynamic swell at the end leading to a thrilling climax. Generally, there could have been a larger variety of dance moves, preferably tailored to the different musical aesthetics. However, this was counterbalanced by their fearless stage presence and intoxicating enjoyment.
Overall, this was a scintillating performance. Northern Lights chose a repertoire which explored both fun and lively numbers along with more soothing, moving songs. They have a wonderful group of singers with a great attitude which is an exciting prospect for the future. Special thanks goes to Northern Lights President Bethany Wright and all musical arrangers, as well as the Boat Club, who cumulatively allowed the night to be such a treat. Good luck to Northern lights for the ICCAs and their performance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in August!