Gobsmacked! is a delightful, energetic mix of current and classic hit sings sung a cappella by six singers (3 male, 3 female) with a strong beat box backup. I had the opportunity to see it at Popejoy Hall in Albuquerque a few days ago with Mr Metawitches, who is a huge a cappella fan. I wasn’t sure if it was just a concert or had a story, going in. I think it was supposed to have a very loose story, but that went right past me.
It didn’t matter a bit, though. The entire cast is mega talented and enthusiastic, giving their all for the entire performance. The show was a little less than two hours long, with a twenty minute intermission. The audience doesn’t need the intermission, but the singers do. They all use their voices continuously on every song, filling in harmonies, instrumentals, and sound effects, if they aren’t singing lead. Every sound made during the show is made by the human body, and they provide a lush wall of sound.
The spine of the show is the beat boxer, BallZee, aka Patrick Hirst, a well known British artist. He acts as the conductor and percussionist, provides physical humor, and has a long solo in the second act. The variety of sounds he can produce is unbelievable. The number of sounds he produces at the same time, and his physical control, is astonishing. I don’t normally care much about beatboxing, other than as the backup for a cappella, but he would have been worth the price of admission by himself.
Marcus Collins, an alumnus of the British version of The X Factor, was one of my favorites of the singers. He has a gorgeous, rich voice that gave an interesting twist to the songs he sang lead on, such as David Bowie’s Life on Mars. Joanne Evans, who has been with Gobsmacked! since its inception at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, was another standout. Her vocal range was miles wide! Monika Sik-Holm, Emilie Louise Israel, Nick Hayes, and Ed Scott were also very entertaining and had great voices.
The performers had to keep track of where the moving stairs that were the set were and do their choreography on and around the steps, in addition to the complex harmonies of every song. They rotated the lead amongst the singers, and everyone sang lead at least once. Ed Scott, the bass, was underused in that capacity. It would have been nice to hear more straight singing from him, though he did get to do some percussion with BallZee and sing falsetto at one point.
Gobsmacked! is an all ages show. The kids in our audience looked like they were having fun. Fans of a cappella, especially modern pop acts like Pitch Perfect and Pentatonix, should enjoy it. We had a great time. The songs kept getting better and better as the night went on.
For more information: Gobsmackedtheshow.com
Here are a few samples from the show (not recorded by me).