Remember the first "Divas Live" on VH1? At the end of the show, Aretha Franklin sauntered on stage, out-singing and out-performing the other divas-in-training. "Divas Live" might have been an ensemble concert, but it was ultimately Aretha's show.
The Loreleis are more gracious to their guests than the Queen of Soul, but the all-female a cappella group's "Glam Jam" operated under the same idea. The Tar Heel Voices and the University of Virginia's Hullabahoos provided excellent opening acts, but it was still the ladies' evening. The quality of the "Glam Jam" ultimately rested solely on their fashionably black-clad shoulders, and - divas that they are - the Loreleis almost always delivered the goods.
The Loreleis offer a sound distinctive from any of their peers. Yes, the group has the polished tone of an a cappella ensemble, but nearly all of their arrangements are more percussive than melodic - the songs focus on the beat rather than the doo-wop harmony.
So it's not surprising that their best songs showcased the group's percussive arrangements. The ladies wisely nodded to En Vogue (the funkiest divas of them all), covering "My Lovin' (You're Never Gonna Get It)" with the chutzpah - and pyrotechnic vocals - required to do the song justice.
The high point of the evening conjured the image of mystical diva Stevie Nicks. Although the opening verse to "Rhiannon" sounded a little unbalanced, as if the group was searching for a tempo, the Loreleis shifted gears into an intense arrangement of "Dreams."
Building to a climax/chant of "Dreams unwind/Love's a state of mind," the group pulled out all the stops, without trying to sound exactly like the Fleetwood Mac version. A returning favorite from concerts past, "Dreams" is quickly becoming the Loreleis' equivalent to the Clef Hangers' mainstay performance of "Africa."
The only missteps of the evening were covers of Bonnie Raitt's "Something to Talk About" and Hall and Oates' "Maneater." It was an ambitious choice, but the group's polished voices did not provide "Something to Talk About" with enough grit to match Raitt's risque original. Despite quickly fixed sound system problems, "Maneater" was the only song in which the ladies' diva image became self-parodic (complete with a feather boa). Divas need to show a little restraint, too.
But even a few spotty moments cannot challenge the Loreleis' place as the University's eminent songstresses.