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February 3, 2006

A Good Idea of A Cappella

The Australian :

James Morrison has called the Idea of North the country's leading exponents of a cappella singing, and the quartet have been attracting international attention recently, winning a number of awards in the US. After a decade together, the group know their voices and their material backwards, making for an assured live performance that is on a par with or better than their four recorded albums. The bass line is the foundation of a cappella singing and the Idea of North are well served by Andrew Piper, whose percussion effects are spot on. Naomi Crellin (alto) and Trish Delaney-Brown (soprano) are adept with jazz phrasing and tone, and Nick Begbie (tenor) brings strong vocals and comic timing to the less serious songs.

Early on in the two-set concert at the Governor Hindmarsh, Begbie told the audience the group were working on their next release, a gospel-based album: a natural progression for a group that have long performed a number of hymns and songs of faith. They sang a few songs that are in the running for a spot on the album, such as an excellent version of the Curtis Mayfield civil rights anthem People Get Ready and a smooth, languid arrangement of Van Morrison's Days Like This.

Songs such as Just a Closer Walk With Thee, Sweet Sweet Spirit, and the Bee Gees' Staying Alive (with a bravura falsetto from Piper) are fan favourites and are usually penciled into an Idea of North setlist. However there are always enough new offerings to satisfy old and new audiences.

While they have the energy to carry off bouncy pop songs, their voices were often displayed to best effect on sadder, slower songs, none more so than their styling of the late-era Abba ballad When All is Said and Done. Delaney-Brown's Agnetha Faltskog-like upper register leads the number, backed by Crellin, Begbie and Piper. While they can't hope to match Abba's studio-enhanced layering on stage, their version more than did the song justice.

Another impressive new number in the set was the Beatles' Eleanor Rigby, in a haunting, slower arrangement that reinforces the sadness of the lyrics. he Idea of North are due to enter the studio this month to begin recording, with a release later this year. On this evidence, it will be an album worth waiting for.

Posted by acapnews at February 3, 2006 12:26 AM