“Substantive, deep and intricate”
I think the mark of a good group name is its capacity for inciting mild social chaos when you try and explain you’re going to see them. And whilst The Other Guys win points for being delightfully vague from the outset, their talent is nothing if not definite.
Formed in 2004, the St Andrews based acapella group has already received significant critical and celebrity accolade; and from the moment the voices start raising, it’s immediately clear why. Well Sung, despite the punderful name, is a set list with multifaceted focus: the quality of the vocals, tonal layers and overarching charmingness of the performance all come together to form what is certainly a spectacle worthy of spectation.
From the first note, what is immediately apparent is the sheer singing skill present throughout the group. The way in which many solo vocalists seemed to swoop and crest throughout their range was genuinely (and indeed, pleasantly) surprising, and it certainly makes for good acapella. It goes a long way to making the sentiments behind the songs seem genuine – for those of the patriotic persuasion, prepare for a performance of “Loch Lomond” that’ll make your knees shiver.
But even more than quality, what marks out The Other Guys is their rich tonality. Falling somewhere between glee club and old school barbershop, the harmonic layering of each vocalist during more group-orientated numbers is so rich and layered that it’s difficult to convey without hearing it. It’s the taste of red wine, or the smell of pine smoke – substantive, deep and intricate.
However, this interoperability is a fickle advantage: despite lending a definite veneer of quality to their songs, it comes at a cost: the more energetic numbers sometimes lacked the volumatic punch needed to fully capture the spirit of their original composition; and whilst tailor-made to show off that rich barber-shop-esque quality, the arrangements occasionally failed to show the same uniqueness which makes the vocals themselves so compelling.
Ultimately, though, it’s hard to deny the charm and talent of this group of young men. From acapella virgins to die-hard fans, this is a show that demands to be seen. Despite its shortcomings, Well Hung is a rare thing: a feast for the ears in which one can choose their portion. It’s very easy to get lost in the sheer vocal texture – but equally so to simply watch as the beauty unfolds.
Reviewer: Jacob Close (Seen 20 August)
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