Photo credit: Joe Martinez
I have a confession to make. I have seen Don’t Push the Button two and a half times. The first time I saw the show as a fellow SpaceUK performer curious about the new group in town, and the second for The Edinburgh Reporter. The half? When my friend Pippa, and alto in my own a cappella group, saw it on my recommendation and raved so much afterwards that I felt I had seen it yet again. The girl in the selfie on The Techtonics’ Facebook page? That’s her.
And still I am glad to have seen the show more than once. This is a cappella at its most entertaining. The performance is slick, accomplished and entirely charming – but we already knew that. The Techtonics recently won the International Championship of Collegiate A Cappella 2016 representing the UK. This is the first time a group from the UK has won this award. More remarkable still is that The Techtonics is a group with only 8 years under its belt.
Don’t Push The Button places a narrative frame onto a concert. This centres on the voice-over provided by the Big Red Button, the pre-recorded voice of Farah Shair. The button “controls” the concert and which songs are sung. The narrative device seems slightly jilting in an otherwise effortless hour. Individual set pieces such as a simulated Pokémon battle (“Nick uses tall, dark and handsome… It’s not very effective”) and a mini fashion show to the tune of Right Said Fred’s “I’m Too Sexy” are strong enough to support themselves without the addition of the button’s narration. I suppose, however, you have to admire the ambition behind the introduction of such a ploy. It’s worth mentioning too that in the latter scene Arun O’Sullivan and Christopher Witham both did the song complete justice. Who knew one could be too sexy for a Ford Fiesta.
The heart of an a cappella group is its beat and its bass – Theo Barfoot, and MD Alex Moore respectively. No two ways about it, these guys are good at what they do. Forming a confident basis for the work of the baritones, tenors and (at a few points) countertenors, theirs is arguably the hardest job but they execute it with apparent ease. Credit is also due to some stunning solos, particularly Nick Bradley, Henry Harrod and Edric Ramirez-Valdez representing Jessie J, Ariana Grande and Nicki Minaj in“Bang Bang”. Peter Noden also does an excellent Whitney Houston. The only quibble I have is that “I Predict An Earthquake” was a better closer than The Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There” – but like I say, I’ve seen this show almost three times at this point.
There are three people, other than the performers themselves, without whom the show would not work – the choreographer Roshani Abbey, and the techies Max Hunter (sound) and Kieran Gilmour (lights). All three lend considerable verve to their craft and inject the show with the extra edge that surely helped them to victory in the ICCA.
Quite simply, I cannot urge you enough to see Don’t Push The Button. Go more than twice if you must. The Techtonics do not have an equal for accomplishment and pure joy amongst any collegiate groups active today.
Aug 19-20, 22-27
14:50 (50 mins)
£10 (£8 conc.)
“Clockwork”, the new CD from The Techtonics, is on sale now.
Follow the group on Facebook @techtonics, Twitter @techtonicsIC, and Instagram @techtonicsic