Thanks to everyone who joined Erin Kelly, Melanie McGrath and me at Mansfield Central Library on Saturday 25 February. We had a panel discussion and Q&A, ...
Saturday, 21 January 2012
Watered Down Oxford Blues
ED FRINGE 2011: Out of the Blue – Pleasance Courtyard
Musical Director: Alexei Kalveks
Reviewer: Johnny Fox
The Public Reviews Rating: 4.0 stars
Has appearance on ‘Britain’s Got Talent’ gone to their heads? Have the self-styled ‘Kings of this genre’ lost their crown?
Oxford University’s Out of the Blue have been an Edinburgh fixture since 2005 and their a capella stylings of everything from 80s synthpop to Lady Gaga a solid “must-see” demanding ever larger venues.
There’s no doubt they have a following: drawing one of Edinburgh’s most varied audiences from pensioners to teens and a surprisingly large contingent of overseas visitors. Annoyingly there’s an equally large contingent of teenage girls filming the show on their mobiles and this, and the constant hiss of the air-conditioning in the Pleasance venue make it harder to be totally engaged with this year’s show.
There are other changes: the turnover this year has been particularly high and 11 of the guys are new to the 15-man troupe: they still perform in smart suits, shirts and socks but the energetic choreography seems more random and less strictly patterned than in previous years. Most significantly, they’ve abandoned microphones in favour of an all-acoustic set which makes for balancing difficulties especially in the quieter pieces, and in a direct comparison with 2010 the diction of the Human League’s ‘Don’t You Want Me Baby’ was noticeably muddier.
Nonetheless, the audience roared its approval for a rich mix of sounds from Jason Derülo’s punchy ‘In My Head’ to a beautifully contrasted pairing of ‘Uptown Girl’ and ‘Always a Woman to Me’ highlighting OOTB’s exceptional affinity with the Long Island sound of Billy Joel.
A crowd-pleasing show, for sure, but a crowd that came not just ready to be pleased but lying on its back with its legs in the air and waiting to be tickled.