Northern Lights has already received such acclaim they hardly need further praise, and yet one cannot leave their ‘B’day Bash’ with anything other than a desire to enthuse about their a cappella mastery.
Yet you do not need a critical understanding of music to appreciate the soul-wrenching sounds that this group can produce. Their theatricality and choreography make this not just audibly, but also visually entertaining. Their chemistry and unity as a group is easy to see, and they intersperse their songs with short interludes of explanation or conversation that create a relaxed atmosphere for the audience. It is wonderful to watch each group member receive their own solo section, proving that their blending of harmonies is easily equalled by brimming individual talent.
Starting with a beautiful rendition of ‘Happy Birthday’, the show is established to have comedic, as well as musical, tendencies. Initially without microphones, the simple song immediately assures the audience of the group’s vocal ability. Continuing to ‘Bad Habits’, the group’s arrangements are showcased in equal measure. This song also demonstrates how moments of silence and tension are used so cleverly by the group to create a captivating atmosphere in the theatre. The underplayed, single-voice ending to the song is especially beautiful to hear after such a swell of voices.
However, the highlight of the set is undeniably ‘Euphoria’. While all of the group’s songs are full of satisfying harmonies and tight transitions, it is this song that passed from an audio to an emotional experience. With skin tingling from the mix of voices, this song lives up to its name, through its very nature. It creates an atmosphere which has the audience clinging to every note.
Northern Lights’ set from the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella is another standout performance moment - it is easy to see why they won the National competition this year. The standard is raised by the cleanliness of their choreography and the energy of the set. However, this is surpassed by the rawness of their rendition of ‘Where is Love’. Ending without microphones brought the show full circle. Compared to the booming bass and echoing vibrations of their earlier songs, this moment of quiet simplicity is nostalgic to match the song’s childlike wonder - an emotional as well as technically proficient act.
Northern Lights is far more than just a singing group, it is a performance troupe in the fullest sense of the word; it is only a shame their ticket sales are limited by the venue capacity. I defy anyone to not enjoy their shows.
Space @ Surgeon's Hall - 10-12, 13.10