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On Broadway, Cape Town, April 2002

It's a little over five years since I last saw the Midnight Mass live, so it was with tremendous excitement that I caught them at On Broadway in Cape Town on my recent visit to Cape Town. With both my wife and younger brother being fans, any change in line-up always needs to get the Samson Seal of Approval (SSA) (well amongst the three of us anyway). The Weir siblings Graham and Christine were awarded lifetime SSA's a long while back so relative newcomers Adrian Galley and Tina Schouw were under the microscope. I am pleased to say that they quickly earned the SSA, Adrian with his warm goosebump-inducing bass tones and Tina with her mostly jazzy, but very versatile voice.

Singing mostly original numbers (the majority penned by Graham Weir), the old magic is still there as they continue to enchant and amaze as the four voices intertwine, flirt with and cajole each other in a bubbling cauldron of harmonic perfection. There's a powerful cover of Roger Lucey's 'The Night Harry J Went to War' and an emotional version of James Phillips' 'You Light Me A Light'. The original numbers include the striking 'Free to Be', the beautiful 'Sweet Valley', the Sinead O' Connor-ish 'Guardian and Keeper of the Flame' and the sublime 'Eh Bah Ran', the latter, as always sending shivers down my spine. They even take a break from the mikes to bring us an unplugged version of the outstanding 'Sad Day'.

Amongst these more serious songs, there are a number of playful fun numbers. Their cover of the Beatles 'Piggies', performed with the lights down and the performers shining torch lights onto their faces, makes the word 'delightful' redundant. The rendition of the nursery rhyme 'Thumberlina' is an old favourite and not for fairy lovers, while 'Eggnut' has Tina in her best girlie voice.

And if after all this you are in any doubt about the ability of the Mass to concoct perfect vocal arrangements, take a listen to 'Rondo Alla Turka' by Mozart as this should put an end to that discussion.

With both the Weirs in better voice than I've ever heard them (and that's saying something) and the undoubtable talents of Tina and Adrian, you are unlikely to be disappointed by this outstanding advertisment for a cappella music. A heartwarming romp of a voicefest.

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