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Fringe review: The Magnets – The Naked '80s

Adelaide Fringe

The first notes sung by The Magnets show why they have such a strong following in Adelaide. Their polished a cappella vocals and animated stagecraft deliver a delightful hour of infectious hits that has the crowd rapt. ★★★★★

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Why the ’80s? Nostalgia, yes, but the audience on this night included many younger people, too. Imagine you could build a set-list around the most popular songs by Prince, Madonna, Chaka Khan, Aerosmith and more.

Some might question the music of the era, but there were gems and The Magnets know it.

So, take five singers who have worked on high-level movie soundtracks and musical theatre to interpret the best of the decade with only the human voice (okay, plus just a little loop technology). Callum McIntosh, bass vocalist and oldest-serving member of the group, explains that everyone gets to suggest material and that this show is a special treat. That much is obvious.

The chosen songs are all vital and recognisable, full of catchy beats, and energetically delivered with beautiful harmonies. You get Europe’s “The Final Countdown”, a gorgeous version of Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody”, Heart’s “Alone” (with tenor Ross Hunter really shining) and a suite of other winners.

A mash-up of Aerosmith/Run-DMC’s “Walk This Way” and Prince’s “Kiss” was fun but needed a more raw edge. On the other hand, the famous John Farnham song “You’re the Voice” was simply gobsmackingly good, with Ross Hunter again in the lead. A medley of 14 hits in just over four minutes was also a crowd-pleaser, getting people on their feet and dancing.

The Magnets are an act that know their craft and what an audience wants. Hats off to Nicholas Girard, the beatbox master and member of the group who doubles as musical director, and tenors Michael Conway and Stevie Hutchinson. The lighting (Tom Kitney) and sound (Max Hunter) also do great justice to the act.

People love what this group offer, even when the line-up and material changes. In addition, the rapport between the members and, in turn, with the audience, is genuine. It all adds up to a quality show with warmth and a strong feel-good factor.

At its heart the beauty of The Naked ’80s is the power of that magical instrument, the human voice. Do catch this dynamic show.

The Magnets are performing in the Wonderland Spiegeltent in Gluttony until March 17. See more Adelaide Fringe reviews and stories here.

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