Live Review: Pentatonix @ Margaret Court Arena

28 March 2023 | 12:23 pm | Michael Prebeg

"We’re still together and stronger than ever."

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Bella Taylor Smith tells us her life completely flipped upside down on its head after she won The Voice Australia in 2021. She begins by sharing some songs that were a catalyst and made a big impact on her career, including the single she released when she won the competition, Higher.

With a new look and ready for a fresh start, tonight, Smith is ready to showcase a lot of new music she’s written from an album she hopes to release soon, including her latest upbeat track, A Long Time Coming. With her husband Josh by her side on acoustic guitar, she stuns the audience with her incredible vocals with an impressive range.

Another new song, Small Things, is one that resonates with Smith’s faith and close relationships. “Sometimes we don’t see all the little things, and then small things start adding up, and we become aware of all the good things we have, and that gratefulness will keep us going.”

Smith performs her blind audition song (from The Voice), Ave Maria by Beyonce. It’s a song that changed everything for her, and it’s one of her favourite songs to sing, she reveals. She gives a flawless delivery of the power ballad and proves exactly why the judges pushed their buttons to turn their chairs around.

The words ‘Music makes you lose control’ flash up on the screen before Pentatonix takes their position on the stage podium for their first song, Sing. The five-piece acapella group start off with a huge bang, and it’s hard to believe that every sound we are hearing is coming live from just their voices. Beatboxer Kevin Olusola and bassman Matt Sallee provide the beat and baselines while alto-soprano Kirsten Maldonado, high-tenor Mitch Grassi and baritone Scott Hoying serve us harmonious pop star vocals.

Pentatonix are excited to end this tour run in Melbourne, and they give us every last breath from their lungs for their show-stopping performance. They start off with a few of their most popular covers, including Simon and Garfunkel’s The Sound Of Silence and a medley mash-up of Daft Punk songs.

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The audience is encouraged to sing and dance as hard as we can, and the quintet feeds off our energy.

Despite being best known for their epic acapella covers, they also include some heartfelt original music tonight, including a song that’s special to them because it’s the first tour they are performing it. Love Me When I Don’t is about having someone that always has your back and whom you can turn to at any moment and be yourself. "I hope it uplifts you as much as it uplifts us,” says Maldonado.

The group don’t have a tonne of original music, but over the past twelve years together, they’ve released two original albums. “It’s such a different experience covering a song and then having to tell a vulnerable story about yourself. But it was beautiful and therapeutic recording our albums of original songs. We got to talk about all the ups and down we’ve been through on our journey. We’re still together and stronger than ever,” says Hoying. In true Pentatonix fashion, they do a medley of songs from The Lucky Ones album with an amuse-bouche selection.

The show quickly becomes more interactive, and before we know it the audience is filming a TikTok with them. They bring out Bella Taylor Smith for a special moment as they perform Ave Maria again together. We are split into three parts, and Hoying gives us one note to remember to join in as a choir to finish.

The surprises keep coming as they change things up, with Olusola returning to the stage solo for his unbelievable cello-boxing routine in which he plays the cello and beatboxes simultaneously. Tonight, he takes some classical pieces, including Prelude from Bach's Cello Suite No.1 and reinvents it in his own way, rearranging it with a modern spin. The incredible talent must be seen to be believed.

The whole group comes together to perform a cover of Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s Shallow accompanied by Olusola’s beautiful cello playing. They then take a row of seats around a microphone for a hand-clapping, body-tapping routine that further showcases the many wonderous talents of these performers who get creative with making music and sounds in their purest form. The energy in the room is ecstatic as they soar through a rock medley and a ‘90s dance medley of popular hits to get the audience up on their feet and singing along. A remarkable cover of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah calms us with their pitch-perfect atmospheric interpretation as they are surrounded by a constellation of twinkling lights.

Although this might be the biggest venue they’ve played on this tour so far, they put down their microphones and do something old-school acapella style. They come together around a single microphone to sing a landmark staple song (My Heart With You by The Rescues). For Pentatonix, this song has been an inspiration for so many of the arrangements they’ve done over the years, and it’s the perfect way to begin their encore as they command absolute silence and project their voices throughout the arena.

The last song of the show is seven minutes long, and it’s the most iconic rock anthem of all time (Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen). It’s a spectacular rendition that’s unlike anything anyone has heard as the five singers come together and harmonise perfectly with their individual parts of highs and lows for a big finale.