As the sun sank behind the towering New York City skyline, a crowd began to amass around Broadway’s historic Beacon Theatre. Above & Beyond, after the massive success of their first acoustic album, was about to begin the first of three nights at the Beacon on the Acoustic II album tour. If you’re unfamiliar, the UK trio is famed for selling out arenas around the world, and are no strangers to headlining sets on the festival circuit. Yet for these evenings, they have traded in their laptops and mixers for their traditional instruments (which they write most of their dance tracks on to begin with,) live vocals, and fully stocked orchestra.
Stepping into the gilded Grecian lobby was like stepping into eras past, as the usual neon-clad trance music fans came formally dressed for the occasion with black tie and elegant dresses. We were soon ushered to our red velvet seats as Solomon Grey, an otherworldly, atmospheric, electronic-duo, (also from the UK) took to the stage. Their haunting vocals washed over an evolving landscape of sound as the two played live and layered their tracks before for the audience. It was a darker and somber note to begin the night on, but was a perfect balance to the energy ahead. The lights faded further and the orchestra began to fill the stage.
Above & Beyond, similar to their last acoustic tour, created an intimate evening filled with beautifully transformed versions of their most popular songs. They were joined by long time friends and vocal collaborators, Zoë Johnston and Justine Suissa, and two newer faces: Colby and Natalie Holmes. A monotone and decayed live feed of the night was projected overhead as if it was clipped from an old and worn film reel, each additional touch adding to the noir aesthetic of the night.
It was truly an immersive experience. Each song prompted a cheer and wave of excitement from the crowd. The band frequently paused between songs to chat between themselves and with the audience. Yet, as much of a departure from the traditional dance music scene as it was, wristbands that were handed out at the beginning of the evening began to pulse with light as the show went on, and of course no production from these guys could be free of final waves of confetti to close out the night.
Acoustic versions of songs and albums are nothing new, and neither is an artist remixing a slew of their tracks. Above & Beyond, on the other hand, continues to push themselves by combining the two, and in turn recreating their past songs in a brand new light. They have stood the test of time by staying true to their music and ideals, playing and evolving at their own pace, as the industry consumes the passing trends around them. The group is so committed to putting on an authentic experience that involves and interacts so deeply with the crowd. This is a show you wouldn’t want to miss even if you’re not a dance music fan. For those of you that weren’t able to make it, fear not — the trio recorded the whole event and should be releasing it soon.