While many of its peers simply push buttons and pump their fists all the way to the bank, Above & Beyond have always sought to elevate electronic music outside the limitations of simply a laptop. Sure, the English trio comprised of Jono Grant, Tony McGuinness and Paavo Siljamäki can light up the night and pack upwards of a million people at any major EDM event on earth, but they’re just as capable of stripping down the spectacle and shifting the emphasis towards live instrumentation.
But rather than wrapping up with an anthem, Above & Beyond ended the almost two hour evening with the reflective tenderness of “Good For Me,” entrancing with the sheer wall of sound and once again demonstrating everyone’s ability to excel well beyond the sheen of the studio.
Along with vocalists Zoe Johnston, Justine Suissa, Cobi and Natalie Holmes, plus an 18-piece orchestra, Above & Beyond brought its tour supporting the forthcoming “Acoustic II” (out June 3) to the Chicago Theatre on Wednesday for the first of two near sell outs. Not only did the guys continually praise the beautiful building and all its lauded history, but they appeared genuinely overwhelmed at the audience’s ecstatic reaction, especially considering the show had never come to town before (and also marked the first time some of the artists even stepped on American soil).
In keeping with the tone of the room, suits and dresses replaced tank tops and glow sticks as Above & Beyond directed the orchestra through selections from its first two “Acoustic” albums, alongside rearranged versions of a few older dance floor regulars. The front half of the set focused on the softer side of the group’s catalogue, including the lush grandeur of “We Are All We Need,” the gorgeous, harp-centered glow of “Sticky Fingers” and the redemptive beauty of “Another Chance.”
As the night progressed, so did the instrumental intensity, bursts of color and volume of sing-a-longs, courtesy of familiar favorites “Thing Called Love,” “On A Good Day” and “Sun & Moon.” But rather than wrapping up with an anthem, Above & Beyond ended the almost two hour evening with the reflective tenderness of “Good For Me,” entrancing with the sheer wall of sound and once again demonstrating everyone’s ability to excel well beyond the sheen of the studio.
For additional information on Above & Beyond, visit AboveAndBeyond.nu/.