You might have heard of ‘crossover’ music and more and more artistes playing with the lines between pop and classical traditions. Well, Well-Strung take that phenomenon and not as much run with it as try and break the 100 metre world record!
When Edmund, Daniel, Trevor and Chris bounded on stage clad in black the impression was more of ‘The Fab Four’ than a New York based string quartet. Fitting then that one of their first numbers was a pared down version of The Beatles’ ‘Here Comes The Sun’!
A memorably spirited and fiery version of Britney Spears’ ‘Toxic’ demonstrated that Well-Strung are not just any old standard covers band with the strings of the three violins and one cello pushed to their dramatic limit. Good job then that violinist Edmund had already replaced the broken ‘G string’ which caused much ribald laughter at the start of the show! Cellist Daniel showed that the band are not just about recreating 90s pop tunes with an impressively melancholic rendition of Elgar’s ‘Cello Concerto’.
Where the boys’ strength really lies, however, is in their unique ‘mash ups’ of well-known classical and pop music pieces. A particular highlight was Bach’s ‘Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring’ blending seamlessly into ‘Perfect’ by Ed Sheeran. I’ll never be able to hear either in the same way again! Changing the pace, country was well represented when Aaron Copland’s Rodeo joined forces with Taylor Swift’s ‘Mean’. ‘Winter’ from the Four Seasons by Vivaldi and Lady Gaga’s ‘Paparazzi worked their spikey magic together well too. I felt the heavy pop riff of The Ronettes’ ‘Be My Baby’ slightly obscured ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’ but Puccini’s heart-felt aria was still recognisable.
Well-Strung seemed quite at home in the 1930’s style art deco decadence of The Crazy Coqs cocktail bar with their wise cracks and easy, genial charm. It was just a pity the audience didn’t seem particularly engaged, clapping politely in all the right places but seeming to not really fully appreciate the boys’ obvious musical talent and inventiveness. Not only did they prove that they are adept at playing and arranging a variety of musical styles but they also sang. Chris and Daniel displayed particularly strong voices and all four were capable of some smooth harmonies as demonstrated on ‘Moon River’. However, to a certain extent, the vocal element seems to distract from what I feel is the band’s strength which is their musical inventiveness. I would be quite happy to hear them play purely instrumental pieces and their identity would be a little clearer.
What was clear was their capacity to bring out the drama in music of all genres. What better song to end the show than Queen’s ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ complete with impressively theatrical changes of pace. ‘Don’t Stop Me Now’ made a similarly rousing encore and could be said to the theme tune to the band’s developing fortunes.