Magnets are boy band with a difference

The Cayman Arts Festival concluded last Saturday, with a performance by the UK group, The Magnets, at First Baptist Church.

The festival, now in its fourth year, has been running for just over a week, with a bevy of performances by international acts, including a jazz night at District 6, an opera performance at Pedro’s Castle and a performance by the string quartet StringFever on Cayman Brac.

The Brac concert very nearly didn’t happen; the much-needed cello got left on the tarmac in Grand Cayman and was rushed over by air ambulance just in time for the show.

Luckily, organisers didn’t have to worry about instruments becoming lost for the final show. This was an a capella group. All festival organisers had to concern themselves with was ensuring the six mics were plugged in.

The Magnets are certainly a boy band with a difference. A multi-award winning vocal harmony band, or vocal and beats, as they prefer to be called, have performed across the globe. Career highlights include sell-out runs at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and performances for former UK Prime Minster Tony Blair and German chancellor Gerhardt Schroeder. They also boast support tours with Gerri Halliwell and Lisa Stansfield. Over the years, the group have also become a favourite with celebrities such as Elle McPherson, Liz Hurley and Hugh Grant, and, judging by Saturday night’s performance, they are set to become a firm favourite with Cayman audiences.

Festival organisers describe their show as sophisticated, sexy and loud. All three it was.

With their freshly pressed suits and crisp white shirts, the group looked the epitome of cool as they swaggered on stage at precisely 7.30pm for their two-hour gig. Without a doubt, The Magnets have a true talent; their vocal sounds giving the illusion of listening to a full live band.

At first, it is a little hard to take in. What? Not a drum hidden behind the stage or a DJ dropping the odd beat? Nope, not a single instrument, DJ, record MP3 or the like, as the group reminded us just a few songs into the set. This was pure a capella and it really was very good.

All six are highly skilled, yet, it is two members of the group that deserve special mention. Vocal percussionist Andy, and bassist Derek. The pair essentially create the beat, while the other four, James, Michael, Nic and Steve, provide the layers of harmony and lead vocals.

During the performance, the audience was treated to a jaw-dropping display of Andy’s exceptional talent. The vocal percussionist – who the group comically describe as ‘spits for a living’ – uses his lips and throat to create the sounds of a beatbox. He mimicked playing a full drum kit, from bass drum to high hat. It was spot on, and was a performance that really was quite incredible. Once the audience had picked their jaws up from the floor he garnered a standing ovation.

The group sung a mix of their own material from their album Giving It All That, as well as covers of popular hits, such as Maroon 5’s This Love, moving seamlessly from one hit to the next. Add in some slick moves, the odd bit of banter and some audience participation, and it made for a fresh, modern and upbeat show that enraptured the audience from beginning to end.