What we would have done to be able to witness Above & Beyond’s Acoustic USA performance at Greek Theater this past weekend. Such is life, especially when you’re off living on the East Coast. But from what we can tell by the cell phone videos we were sent during their show, this was indeed a monumental experience that no DJ set could ever offer. Even so, these poor-quality iPhone clips were so powerful that they brought tears to our eyes as we had instantly become part of “Sun & Moon,” a timeless masterpiece. Before last weekend, nothing felt so right or so pure.
Thousands of (very) lucky Californians and others had the chance of seeing Jono Grant (Rhodes piano, vibraphone), Tony McGuinness (acoustic and electric guitar, vocals, mandolin, ukulele), and Paavo Siljamaki (piano, cello, vibraphone) showcase a mouth-watering, jaw-dropping, tear-jerking recital. Fans gathered together for something a little different, a show that commanded respect, maturity, and open-mindedness from its audience. It was a performance where people sat rather than stood, and listened rather than raged. This was the first time America was given the opportunity to observe the trio’s roots as live musicians, and if two sold-out shows doesn’t scream “legends,” then we don’t know what does.
We’ll admit that we were shocked when Skrillex, aka Sonny Moore, made a guest appearance on the second evening of Above & Beyond’s performance during “Black Room Boy.” Picking up a guitar and playing for a crowd that had absolutely no clue of his scheme must have been a rewarding experience, for what is a show without its surprises?
Accompanied by a 13-piece band including a string quartet, harp, brass, and percussion, and vocalists Zoe Johnston, Alex Vargas, and Annie Drury, the English prodigies gave these back-to-back shows their all. And as always, they presented a flawless performance spanning across their three hit studio albums (two as Above & Beyond and one as OceanLab). The experience that thousands left Greek Theater with really lends itself to the fact that the nature of Above & Beyond’s acoustic sound is just as quality, or perhaps even more so, than their electronic sound. With the assistance of musical director and collaborator, Bob Bradley, Above & Beyond and their crew easily transformed this show into the emotional catharsis that fans have yearned for years, but didn’t quite know it.
Check out A&B's acoustic version of "Love Is Not Enough" below: