They just get better and better. Australia’s premier a-cappella vocal ensemble held a capacity audience completely wrapt in the neo-gothic splendour and superb acoustic of St Peter’s Cathedral for over an hour. This awesome foursome has earned well-deserved paeons of praise wherever they have performed around the world, and deserve a fuller following in their home country; surely one of our best artistic exports.
Their perfectly conceived opening with Bobby McFerrin’s gorgeous treatment of the 23rd Psalm set the atmosphere for this often contemplative, sometimes subdued, and almost always sublime concert by candlelight. A pot-pourri of ballads by such diverse composers as Sting, Peter Allen, George Gershwin, ABBA and Charlie Chaplin followed, each showing only some of this group’s range of talent, including Alto Naomi Crellin’s relaxed smoothness and admirable accuracy, Soprano Sally Cameron’s clarity crispness and range, Tenor Nick Begbie’s appealing penchant for passion as well as subtle humour, and Bass Andrew Piper’s rich tones and grounded, rock-solid rhythm.
Together, TION demonstrates exemplary ensemble. Sting’s “Fields of Gold” shone in this with its crunchy harmonies, and showed Sally’s versatility. The group’s own arrangement of “How Fragile We Are” showed seamless passes of tune from Nick to Naomi. Her arrangement of “I Still Call Australia Home” with some wonderful key changes should be taken notice of by Qantas. It brought the audience to its feet.
This lofty space posed a challenge for the group, which is used to close mike work. Here, they moved out of their comfort zone into a mildly boosted acoustic style, which suited the repertoire and setting, but meant that Andrew’s sonorous bass could do with more emphasis, and he was not able to do so much of his amazing percussion sounds. It’s not that we lost him – just that we missed him a bit. Nevertheless the transition to different style and setting emphasised their versatility. North, South, East or West, this group is a good Idea.
The Idea of North
Ballads by Candlelight
Venue: St Peter’s Cathedral, 27 King William Rd, North Adelaide
Date/Time: 6 Mar @ 8pm
Tickets: $25.00 / $15.00
Bookings: 1300 FRINGE (374 643) | adelaidefringe.com.au