Last Friday evening St Andrews welcomed back their favorite co-ed a Capella group, the Alleycats, fresh off their first American tour for a homecoming gig. Before the singing began however, the group played a montage of home video footage of their time in America. I thought this was a lovely touch, particularly because the insular world of a cappella can often seem quite bizarre to those who aren’t part of it; it was fantastic to be given an insight into how much work goes into creating the arrangements and rehearsing until they’re performance ready.
Amongst The Alleycats classics such as Signed, Sealed, Delivered, for me there were two stand out songs in the set. The first of the two was a heart-wrenchingly beautiful mashup of Sam Smith’s I’m Not The Only One and Stay With Me. Given that both songs have received a considerable amount of airplay since they were released it would be easy to assume that by now they might sound tired. However, the decision to combine them to create a storyline in the performance meant that The Alleycats’ arrangement still feels as fresh as when they debuted it at the Christmas concert back in November. As usual, Neil Stewart and Ayanna Coleman-Potempa’s vocals were on point. To be perfectly honest, if they’d have caught me earlier in the day when I was considerably more hungover I would have been weeping like a baby – it was that good. The second song that took my breath away was Pretty Hurts by Beyoncé. The arrangement began with group standing in a circle, giving it a sombre feel, before they turned out to face the audience and Caitlin MacDonald stepped out for her solo. The first thing that crossed my mind was “Where have they been hiding this girl?”. Her vocals were absolutely effortless, and given that she took the lead on two other songs that evening, I hope we’ll be hearing a lot more of her in the future. I’ve been told they performed Pretty Hurts at the Fringe last summer, but this was the first time I’d ever heard her solo in St Andrews.
The sole criticism I had of the evening was that the set seemed a little low energy in places and the group didn’t seem as committed to their choreography they have demonstrated in the past. This was unusual as their stand out dance moves are often what sets them apart from other groups in St Andrews. That said, the night was definitely a success, and for just £2.50 for an evening of entertainment, it was excellent value for money.