Pentatonix + Samantha Jade: Live review | Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre | Monday 17 February 2020

Pentatonix delivered the one of a kind experience that only they could, to a sell out Brisbane crowd.

It was a packed Convention Centre hall for Monday night’s Brisbane leg of the Pentatonix 2020 Australian tour, and in an unusual twist, the majority of the audience members were present for Samantha Jade’s support slot, in which she and her band delivered a polished and heartfelt acoustic set of stripped back R&B pop laden with rich vocal harmony, which served as a perfect opener for the world’s most celebrated contemporary a cappella group.

A cappella harmony doesn’t immediately lend itself to a major concert hall setting, lighting shows and video FX, and yet the modern sensibilities of Pentatonix and their total embrace of digital mediums has meant that the two now don’t seem so incongruous. So when the lights went down and Scott, Mitch, Kirstin, Kevin and Matt took to the stage to the sound of ear-splitting screams and a visual display worthy of a Daft Punk concert, all seemed right with the world.

And yes, they did the Daft Punk medley. See what we did there?

Speaking of ear-splitting, I could’ve done with three notches off the overall volume and five off the bass, but ask someone there under 40 – approximately 80% of the crowd – and you may (read: almost certainly) have gotten a different response.

The concert itself, like many of the group’s arrangements, was a manic, ever-shifting medley of numbers, artists, and key changes. Not overly coherent and at times hard to follow, but always entertaining, perfectly in sync (how? how do they do it?) musically on point and wholly, astonishingly impressive. Let’s just say heads were shaken. Gasps were gasped. Goosebumps were bumped.

Cleverly, the group flipped their ‘Evolution of’ series into a version of their own musical journey, doing snippets of their most famous songs, interspersed with stories from their time together. It enabled them to connect with the crowd and touch on fan favourites while still allowing time in the set for pieces which haven’t yet been done to death over the last eight years.

Highlights for this reviewer were entirely made up of full numbers, with the far and away top spot being held by the quirky, choral-operatic inspired Cosmo Sheldrake number ‘Come Away’, complete with trippy toadstool background effects, and dedicated to all the “music nerds” in the audience (guilty as charged). It’s in these more complex, non-pop arrangements that the true vocal acrobatic and timing talents of this quintet are really given the opportunity to shine.

Beat-boxer Kevin Olusola stole the show for a while with his spellbinding Game of Thrones-themed cello + beat-boxing number, before accompanying baritone Scott Hoying and Kirstin Maldonado on a heart-rending version of ‘Shallow’.

Mitch Grassi’s soaring six octave tenor and Kirstin’s sweet mezzo-soprano took on ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ like it was a Sunday stroll in the park, while ‘Imagine’ had the crowd whipping out their phone torches, but it was final song ‘Hallelujah’ and its stunning light show which left nary a dry eye in the house. Claps were clapped. Ovations were stood.

The satiated Brisbane crowd floated out on air, secure in the knowledge that they’d witnessed a unique and superior musical experience, the likes of which they’re unlikely to see again, at least not until the fab five return once more to our sunny shores. Please, let it be soon.

IMAGE (c) Gabi Rankine


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