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Music review: The Magnets
Music review: The Magnets

CONCERT

The Magnets

Festival Gardens

March 1

Review Ara Jansen

When you go to a concert, it's easy to sit back, enjoy and let the music wash over you. English a capella group The Magnets demand more.

As six men who create everything from the drums to the high notes purely with their voices, they immediately and effortlessly engage you in active listening. But it's no imposition, because they're terrific. Actually, you'll probably spend a lot of the time wondering and marvelling at how the hell they do it.

These guys are a rare and stylish mix, pulling off being singers and entertainers wrapped in doses of good humour and serious craft.

There's a real danger of an evening of a capella songs being samey and merging mindlessly into one but The Magnets truly have it sussed. Their choice of songs is wide - from Florence and the Machine to Blondie, Lady Gaga and The Jackson 5 - and not what you expect. Then there's the fun of recognising how they've rearranged and Magnetized a hit you heard on the radio this morning.

The textures, layers and depth of their arrangements were stunning, whether they were Rolling in the Deep, choosing a Weapon of Choice, dancing at the Dreamer's Ball or opting for A-Ha's Hunting High and Low. One of their signature pieces is the rollicking A - Z of movie and TV themes which had the audience yelling titles out.

While everyone showed off their vocal strengths, it was hard not to fall in love with suave bass man Fraser Collins and fluid-lipped drummer / beat boxer Andy Frost. Anyone who saw Frost's equivalent of a drum solo-meets-rhythm exploration is probably still scratching their head wondering how in the world he did it. From pulling out the beats in Billie Jean along with a few choice dance steps and a grand imitation of Prince, he was nothing short of amazing.

In just under two hours The Magnets energy was so infectious after the show I found myself wondering how they would tackle Metallica or something soulfully Motown, thoroughly eager to find out what they can come up with next.