This is the 7th year that collegiate a capella group All The King’s Men have performed at the Fringe. After almost winning the first BCC ‘Pitch Battle’, they return this year with even more accolades. With astounding professionalism for a student group, these dashing students from the University of London, who are everything from dentists to linguists by trade, put on a polished, fun and musically excellent display of close harmony and showmanship.
In their hour-long show, All The King’s Men combine numbers from their latest album ’11’, favourites from their Pitch Battle season and never-before-heard tracks. Even those who have been to see the group many times before will have reason to return as the arrangements are ever-evolving. Perfectly slick and creative lighting design by Chloe Stally-Gibson as well as All The King’s Men member and creative director George Fowler’s sassy and clever choreography tie together showstopper after showstopper. From energetic and entertaining crowd-pleasers such as Austin Mahone’s ‘Dirty Work’ to a moving rendition of Bon Iver’s ‘Creeks’ performed in an inwards-facing circle, All The King’s Men aim to show off the breadth of their skill. The group sets itself apart from other collegiate a capella groups by striving for musical excellence rather than just mainstream marketability – this is clear from the complexity of their arrangements. Well-known pop numbers such as Beyonce’s ‘Crazy in Love’ and Ricky Martin’s ‘La Vida Loca’ gain a whole new life in their hands.
It shows that many of the King’s Men have a musical background and are chorally trained. However, these boys are not just choir boys – the group is gifted with some excellent soloists, from Todd Harris’ velvety bass voice to George Fowler’s confidently musical riffs. New member Alfred Mitchell beautifully carries a version of Bishop Briggs’ ‘River’ and Ben Taylor-Davies’ soaring countertenor leaves the audience breathless singing Kygo’s ‘Firestorms’. The blend of voices, showcasing the full male range, is well-executed and underscored by some very talented beatboxing from first-year economics student Freddie Ohlsson. The group never look like they are having to think about what they are singing – the tight-knit ensemble, musically and choreographically, seems to come completely naturally.
All The King’s Men clearly enjoy putting on a good show. They are at their ease onstage and their introductory and concluding speeches demonstrate a great rapport with new audience members and old fans. Musically interesting, diverse in repertoire and wonderfully entertaining, this show will appeal to many. I just kept thinking how much I wanted to go see them again.
All The King’s Men are playing C Venues – C until August 22.