For me, female acapella is really difficult to get right. Higher voices sound beautiful with backing but take away the instruments and it can feel a little thin and unsatisfying, the sweet without the substance, like icing without a cake.
Thankfully, in this respect, The Accidentals were a revelation to me. Fully backing up the ‘independent woman’ strength of their title they bring a depth and texture which I haven’t previously seen from a group of this kind.
Part of this is due to their possessing a select core of exceptionally strong vocalists. Don’t get me wrong – all of these girls are excellent but Anna MacDonald and Vicki Robertson bring with them an assuredness and range that gives this performance. Frankly any female soloist willing to step up and take on Adele’s ‘Rolling in the Deep’ (with pretty spectacular results) deserves respect and I salute Robertson for reclaiming the semi-misogynistic ‘Blurred Lines’. This is not to forget Tessa Stokes whose cracking soul voice, showcased on ‘The Clapping Song’ is complemented by an on-stage manner with real fire and charisma.
However, an excellent vocal line-up is only half the battle. Here too, The Accidentals answer the call. Their choice of songs is impeccable, up-tempo anthems like their ‘Good Feeling’/’Dynamite’ mashup contrasting beautifully with quieter moments such as Kutylowski’s beautifully earnest rendition of ‘Go Your Own Way’. The undoubted vocal highlight for me though was a barnstorming rendition of Bastille’s ‘Pompeii’, a song whose wall-of-sound chorus has caused problems for even large male acapella groups at this year’s Fringe. I’m happy to say that the Accidentals nail it with stunning results.
Add to this energetic, fun and feisty choreography and you have a show that you can’t possibly not enjoy.There are, admittedly, moments where the polish of the performance falls apart a little, usually because the girls look like they’re enjoying themselves rather too much but this only adds to the sense of fun and joy in performance. A capella performance at its best and a credible threat to a certain bunch of Oxford boys in blue as next year’s must-see a capella group for the Fringe.