Alternotive a Cappella

'My darling, you were wonderful tonight,' sings Ali Livesey in one of the most sublime numbers of the Oxford Alternotives’ concert – and the same should be said to the Oxford Alternotives themselves, who were indeed wonderful. Livesey – who ensured every female, and probably most of the male, audience members left the theatre in a flustered daze – is just one of a host of brilliant soloists in The Alternotives, a group of ten Oxford students who have burst onto the Fringe with this dazzling debut show.The show includes a genuine mix of music, with some unusual choices one wouldn’t usually hear in a cappella. As well as classics such as Queen and Michael Jackson, there are a few rather inspired choices such as Postal Service, Annie Lennox and Eric Clapton providing a breath of fresh air in an a cappella-packed Fringe. The arranging is well calculated to the group’s size and constructed in such a way that played to the strengths of the individuals and ensemble. While the soloists gave a powerful, feel-good tribute to Freddie Mercury or sensitive, goosebump-inducing rendition of Bridge Over Troubled Water (a definite highlight in arrangement, solos and blend), the members worked to provide a smooth, secure textured backdrop. This wasn’t just backing vocals: the singers worked together with the arrangements to allow individuals to come through and give a good amount of space to the soloists. Beside the musicality of the group, the Alternotives were very funny: I won’t give away the central comedy interlude, but it was original, professionally conducted and had the audience in stitches.The only sizeable flaw of the show was founded on the fact that they have been performing already for two weeks: although the group’s energy levels have apparently not suffered, their voices have, and the sopranos did occasionally sound rather tired. As they were often left high and exposed because of the small size of the group and the unforgiving acoustic of the venue, this did sometimes make the top line of the pieces sound thin and rather strained, which in turn also affected the tuning. The same could sometimes be said for the tenors, as there simply weren’t enough of them. However, this didn’t in general take away from the quality of the solos and, despite the small number of singers, the sound did not generally sound thin or weak, as the arrangements were well moulded to the group’s size and the singers realised these arrangements beautifully in a way that really played to members’ strengths.Fantastic arrangements sublimely realized by a group well aware of ensemble and musicality as well as energetic performance and humour. I was smiling from start to finish.

Reviews by Amy Crothers

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The Blurb

Oxford's crazily cool award-winning a cappella group entertain with a mix of pop, rock and R&B. An hour of dazzling harmonies and ridiculous dancing, the Alternotives are all about having a laugh. Come see for yourself! 'Breathtaking' (Cherwell.org).

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