Spark your love for a cappella with the Sons of Pitches
I have to admit, I’m a bit of a sucker for an a cappella singing group (for those not musically inclined, a vocal harmony group who sing without instrumental accompaniment). I’m one of those 40-somethings whose guilty pleasure is bopping along to the melodies in the Pitch Perfect movies, secretly wishing I had the voice to carry off a solo, even of Fat Amy’s standards.
Maybe it’s my inadequacies in the vocal department that helps me appreciate the skill it takes to not only carry a tune, but take a song to a completely new level through vocal harmony.
Having admitted that I have a bit of a geeky love for a choral performance, however, (Sister Act will also remain a firm favourite in my film collection), it’s still not the type of show I would ordinarily seek out and book. I guess sitting through a whole two hours of a cappella seemed a bit much, even for me.
My friend’s enthusiasm for the Sons of Pitches boys, however, swayed me into joining her for a performance at Shrewsbury’s Theatre Severn – although I had no idea who they were. BBC2’s ‘The Naked Choir with Gary Malone’ had passed completely under my radar when it was televised back in 2015. I’ve learned since that the six-man choir caused quite a stir on the show and, after claiming the top spot as inevitable winners, they have continued their musical journey touring not only across the UK and Europe, but globally.
The group appeared on television once again on Sky One’s ‘Sing: Ultimate A Cappella’ as the show’s in-house band alongside host Cat Deeley. Another one I’m kicking myself I missed. But boy, am I glad I’ve been introduced to the SoP now!
Their videos are clocking up millions of views on their YouTube channel, and they’ve been hired by the likes of Microsoft, Sky, ASOS, Nokia and the NFL as headline performers and enjoyed a sell-out debut run at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. After watching them live on stage, I understand why. These guys are simply incredible. In fact, I would defy anyone to listen to their music and not be impressed. I’ve since introduced their CDs to my hard-to-please 22 and 16-year-old sons and they love them too!
The theatre show covered all genres and eras. My mum loved their Abba hits, while the stand-out performance of the night for me was Debbie Harry’s ‘Heart of Glass’. It took me a few bars to recognise the song, but it’s a perfect example of the genius of the group – re-inventing much-loved songs in their own unique style.
Another stroke of genius was their improvised interludes, with the help of some audience participation. How they made up a song on the spot using a text message that read ‘I’m calling the NSPCC’ in the style of Queen and Disney I still don’t know. But they did, and it was hilarious.
Since their formation in 2010, the Sons of Pitches, made up of Joe Novelli, Joe Hinds, Jamie Hughes, Joe Belham, Josh Mallett and Midé Naike, have established themselves as one of the premiere vocal groups currently working in the UK.
Despite their recent success, the loveable chaps are loath to forget their humble beginnings performing at pubs and bars across Birmingham. If you’re lucky, you might still catch them performing at one of their old haunts in the second city.
I’ll definitely be looking out for their next gig and can only suggest you give it a try too. I guarantee they’ll surprise you, and it might spark a new fascination for the whole a capella scene. Perhaps, in time, you’ll find yourself bopping along to the Pitch Perfect and Sister Act movies too.