Skip to content


Home arrow Archive: EdFringe 2013 arrow The Alleycats: Contemporary a Cappella
The Alleycats: Contemporary a Cappella
Published on Thursday, 08 August 2013

4 stars

C venues - C (venue website)
31 Jul, 1-13 Aug, 3:30pm-4:20pm
Reviewed by Ellen Macpherson

 Family-friendly. Suitable for all ages.

The thing about the University of St Andrews, which the Alleycats hail from, is that there's more a capella competition than at any other university in the country. So the groups that do emerge from there need to be excellent to stand a chance, and the Alleycats are no exception. Dressed in their trademark suits white hi-tops, they charmed everyone in the room with a mix of RnB, Top 40 pop, indie anthems and Motown classics – and yes, even the forty-something Glaswegian man sitting next to me cracked a smile.

I've seen the Alleycats a few times now, most recently at the Voice Festival. They've lost a good chunk of their old contingent, but they still work together extremely well as a group, and considering the number of new faces in their midst they've done extraordinarily well to pull together and bond. I do have to note that the choreography hasn't improved much since February, but it's now reached the point of being so ironically bad that it's endearing.

The set list ticked all the boxes, and catered to the incredibly diverse range of age groups and personalities in the audience. This being the Alleycats' third run at the Fringe, it's obvious they know what they're doing. Occasionally, I would have liked them to introduce more of the songs; for instance, while I knew the song Give Me Love by Ed Sheeran, I'm not sure the whole room did. It's a little isolating and uncomfortable when it's expected that you know a tune, but you don't have a clue.

Musically, I'm not sure they always select the right soloists. A couple of the solo performers failed to lift their voices above the chorus at times, not enough to spoil a whole song or performance, but just enough to be noticeable. Special mentions, however, have to go to Ayanna Coleman for her flawless execution of Dancing On My Own and Ollie Hayes for a positively swoon-worthy performance of Moondance. Interestingly, we were told it was the first time they've attempted jazz as a group, and it was definitely one of the highlights.

The Alleycats really are a standout of youth a capella at this year's festival. They're already proving extremely popular (the show today was almost packed to the rafters), and judging by the raucous applause during and after the show, they're clearly living up to their own hype. One thing I've always admired about them is their warmth and enthusiasm for what they do; musical Director Brendan McDonald spoke in a brief interlude about the development of the group, and he displayed a great amount of passion and exuberance. It's quite a competitive year for this style of music at the Fringe, but the Alleycats bring warmth and an infectious energy that other groups will do well to match.

<< Desdemona: A Play About a...   I Want to Tell You Someth... >>

About our star ratings

We've changed our rating system for this year.

Find out more >>

Follow our reviews!

RSS Subscribe to RSS
Twitter Follow us on Twitter

Editor's Blog

We're blogging this month about the ethics and practice of arts reviewing at the Fringe.  Come and join the discussion.

Visit the blog >>