By MIKE CHAIKEN
It’s tough to be a vocal group in a live setting. Getting the harmonies right, as you dance and work hard to make the show exciting to a paying audience.
It’s really easy to hit a slew of bum notes. And it’s understandable when harmonies go a bit sour.
Sometimes, artists will put the focus on the show rather than the music and allow a recording to take on the hard work of performing the vocals. That way, everything will sound studio perfect.
If you listened closely, U.K. group Little Mix did use some vocal sweetening on their backing tracks when they served as the second act of the Neon Lights Tour with headliner Demi Lovato.
But, the four vocalists, who won the U.K. version of “X-Factor,” took a moment during their performance to make a point. Yes, they really can sing.
Turning off the recorded backing tracks for a few minutes (they arrived in the states sans band but accompanied by male dancers), the members declared to the audience that they were going to take a moment and offer up a little a cappella. And then the foursome — Leigh-Anne Pinnock, Perrie Edwards, Jesy Nelson, and Jade Thirlwall, set off a vocal tour de force that clearly demonstrated the four lasses have some powerful pipes and they have the skills to work some complicated vocal harmonies.
The group definitely has plentiful supply of catchy originals from their two albums, “DNA” and “Salute” the audience members clearly knew well as they sang along without hestitation.
But one of the fun moments was when Little Mix pulled out their contribution to Sports Relief (an organization that raises money for the poor in the U.K. and the world), a cover of the 1980s’ funk nugget, “Word Up.” The group does a great job of making the catchy track their own and modern by offering up their trademark harmonies to supplant the original’s more robotic vocal approach that was so typically 1980s.
Another appealing aspect of Little Mix is they are relatable to their primarily female audience. They are four attractive women. They show style in how they dress. But they also appear very real and sincere.
They also let their music speak to their audience, in such tracks as the inspiring, “Little Me.”
Little Mix is making considerable noise on this side of the pond after winning over hearts and minds in the British isles. And with the Demi Lovato tour, they are sure to win over Lovato’s dedicated fans. Little Mix definitely proved at the March 8 edition of The Neon Lights tour at the Oakdale in Wallingford that all the buzz is true.
I give Little Mix 3 out of 4 stars on The Neon Lights tour.
By MIKE CHAIKEN