Thursday, April 28, 2016

Gig: Above & Beyond Acoustic @ St-John-At-Hackney Church

A few years ago A&B did a tour where they adapted some of their tunes to be played by a small orchestra. I totally missed it, only discovering it on Spotify several years later; I guess I don't immerse myself in trance regularly enough. In 2016, they announced their second tour in the same style and this time I went.

For years Above and Beyond have been producing some of the best trance tunes out there, mostly under the general public's radar which is a shame because some of their pieces are beautifully structured and if trance was written in crayon, these guys write in pastels. They deserve wider recognition than they get. The fact these guys are classically trained should mean that playing classical versions of their tunes would be something special, wouldn't it?

Of course it would. The music was stunning and the two regular singers Zoe Johnston & Justine Suissa have been joined by first-timers Natalie Holmes and Coby. All of them were faultless if a little apprehensive at the start. This was the first show in a small 6-week tour and as the night went on they relaxed and by the encore were lapping up the adulation and having a laugh.

Instead of being behind the decks, 2 of the guys spent most of their time behind keyboards. Paolo on a piano and Jonno on a small electric keyboard. Tony would move around the stage more but seemed very at home behind a guitar. just off centre stage Accompanied by a couple of drummers, guitarist, string quartet and a guy who appeared to play every brass instrument known to man, they all kept the audience enraptured for almost 2 hours.

It was perhaps fitting that these first couple of shows took place in a church, as some of the congregation appeared to almost have a religious experience. I can understand why, good trance can do that and I have to say this was the first time I'd seen classical music elicit the same response, such was the strength of their material I guess.

The stand-out track for me was their reworking of "On a Good Day", which was just beautiful, and well done to them for asking that cameras not be used and instead we enjoy and immerse ourselves in the experience. I wish more bands did that.

I've seen them DJ live and now that I've seen this I know which I prefer. More acoustic please!

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