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The Magnets
Published on Friday, 12 August 2011

3 stars

Assembly George Square (venue website)
5-15, 17-29 Aug, 6:10pm-7:10pm
Reviewed by Hannah Van Den Bergh

 Family-friendly. Suitable for all ages.

The best popular musicians maintain their success because, not only is their musical extravagance of the highest quality, they also preserve themselves by adapting. They stay modern, continually reworking and perfecting their performance and expanding on their repertoire to keep the public attentive and amused.  Knowing that we’re all too easily distracted, they must don new glitter and leotards, or face the bitter truth that they’ll lose their audience.

The unashamedly camp, honeyed tones of The Magnets remained,  causing a stir when caressing the ears of new audience members who had yet to experience the sheer force of this six-piece a capella group. Despite some pitch problems due to one Magnet’s illness, which unavoidably had extensive repercussions on the performance, the same recognisable Magnets traits shone through – the dulcet, co-ordinated voices, the occasional dad-dance move, the Andy Frost solo on “drums” and the inevitable glitzy lighting.

But they had completely failed to embrace anything new. It was effectively the same sparkling performance from last year, done with half the enthusiasm – and, considering it was an hour, with far too few new pieces adapted to The Magnets’ signature sound. There's a balance between doing the 'greatest hits' and adding something new.   Their Musical A to Z, a twenty-six song medley finale that they have done consecutively over the past three years, remains jaw-dropping.  But the cheek they display when they claim they “couldn’t be bothered” to amend parts of the show highlights the issue, and I’m concerned they may be close to believing they’ve outgrown the Fringe stage.

Even Frost, the beatboxing spectacular who has transformed many Magnets performances, fell slightly flat under the crushing realisation that we’d seen it all before. His solo was nearly identical to last year’s; the whole act has failed to evolve.  Considering their expansive fan base and ever-increasing worldwide fame, you’d think the loyal audience member was deserving of some new Magnet spice.

The 400-seat Spiegeltent also detracted from The Magnets’ experience – with typical issues such as spacing and difficulty seeing the stage. I understand this may seem pernickety, but this stark comparison to the grandstand-style seating at The Magnets’ previous home diminished the ‘wow’ of the a capella performance. It misses the point a little: to truly wonder at what these men are doing with their mouths, you have to be able to see it, which just didn’t work so well in the Spiegeltent.

I don't want to underestimate the talent of The Magnets; but this show disappointed, with no attempt at captivating an audience already familiar with their routine.

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