Having seen last year’s show, I was intrigued to see what Jazzmanix would have to offer a year on. And suffice to say, I was not in the least disappointed. The programme was an eclectic mix of pop and gospel tunes, with an original song by one of their own assistant musical directors thrown in for good measure.
The first half of the concert was characterised by the society’s small a cappella groups, and without a doubt the two that stood out were the opening and closing groups. Evie and the Praisens were wonderfully dynamic, and even succeeded in making a Justin Bieber track one of the most endearing songs of the first half. Their following mashup of ‘Jesus Be a Fence’ and ‘Wade in the Water’ demonstrated some serious attitude on the part of the group’s male members that had me wanting to jump out my seat right as the show began. The Jazzmanix Manband closed the first half with some of the tightest harmonies I’ve heard from an a cappella group in a long time. The interaction within the group had myself and many others cracking up, culminating the first half with one of the most entertaining acts of the evening.
The only performance of the evening that left me underwhelmed was the musical theatre a cappella group, Reprise. Unfortunately, when you pick theatrical music as a genre to explore, the physical performance is as key a factor as the way you sound. Whilst the group sang the material from Moulin Rouge and Les Miserables beautifully, the stage presence to bring it up that extra notch just wasn’t there.
The second half featured the main Jazzmanix choir. Whilst the vocals of the opening number were drowned out a little by the band, this was something that was quickly rectified as the show went on. Credit is definitely due to the first main choir soloist of the evening, Lizzie Rogers, whose rendition of ‘Trading My Sorrows’ was one of the highlights of the evening. Special mention must also go to Naomi Hickman, one of the musical directors, whose fantastic arrangement of ‘Majesty’ was the emotional powerhouse of the show.
The final song left me itching to get up and dance in the aisles. The energy from the choir skyrocketed for the final number, with James Gill, Frances Barnes, Peter Hailes, and Joshua McDonald getting so into it they looked like they were about to burst right off the stage.
With an almost sold out auditorium and a concluding standing ovation, this was a show not to be missed. Keep an eye out for next year’s performance.