Boy Band with a difference: four New York Millennials scrape, thwack, bang and pluck their stringed instruments employing classical highlights intertwined with pop standards to create musical mash-ups – or musical mishmashes, depending on your perspective. Two violins, a viola, a cello and an occasional guitar are the tools of their melodious trade and their musicianship is unquestionable, their enthusiasm unbounded.
The problem comes when they open their mouths. Whatever your thoughts on Boy Bands no-one can deny that they are invariably good singers. In trying to imitate/ape/outdo such vocal luminaries as Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Lady Gaga and Freddie Mercury, Well-Strung become a kind of dime-store cabaret act whose USP seems to be an irritating patter amongst the group that is inaudible to all but the front row. The four accomplished instrumental musicians don’t possess the vocal range to do justice to some of the, admittedly quite challenging numbers, that they are undertaking. The evening lifts several notches when a friend from the audience, singer Liza Pullman, arrives on stage to perform Moon River and not only do we have some much needed vocal electricity entering the space but also the four show that they can harmonise well behind the lead: something perhaps they should stick to.
Unfortunately, Pullman only delivers the one number and, apart from their Bach inspired fusion of Radiohead’s Creep, the rest of the show is fairly nondescript. Creep they handle well because it sits more comfortably in their vocal range and creates a much more intensive, moody atmosphere which contrasts, thankfully, with the OTT jollity of the rest of the show.
After that, though, the set completely deteriorates into anathema-ville with, wait for it, *audience participation* in a Sound of Music singalong. (Note to self: always check the terms and conditions carefully and don’t tick the box that forces you into untunefully parroting the words “Doe, a deer, a female deer”).
The venue – The Crazy Coqs cabaret space in the basement of Brasserie Zedel in Piccadilly, is an Art Deco delight. The place was full and there’s no doubt Well Strung, niche entertainment as it is, has a loyal following and the 95% male audience of a certain age had an entertaining evening. But I was left with the distinct feeling that not only had I wandered into an open mike night in the Village but also that I was not in on the joke.
Review by Peter Yates
Well-Strung featuring Edmund Bagnell (first violin), Christopher Marchant (second violin), Daniel Shevlin (cello) and Trevor Wadleigh (viola), is a string quartet with a modern twist. The group plays classical pieces including Bach and Mozart as well as singing pop music hits from the likes of Taylor Swift, Kelly Clarkson and Pink for a uniquely engaging experience.
Well-Strung is a string quartet with a modern twist; they play classical pieces including Bach and Mozart while singing electrifying harmonies of pop music hits, spanning tunes by Taylor Swift, Rihanna, Kelly Clarkson and Pink.
7 OCTOBER (9.15PM) & 8 OCTOBER (7PM)