The sign on the marquee said “Above & Beyond Acoustic,” but “Above & Beyond Orchestra” may have been more appropriate, as nearly twenty musicians crammed onto the stage of the Beacon Theatre to perform live interpretations of songs from the catalogue of the three piece trance icons. With a crowd dressed primarily in suits and dresses, a stage stacked with violins instead of lasers, and a hushed crowd, this was the complete opposite of a standard Above & Beyond show (except for confetti – there’s always going to be confetti).

While Above & Beyond has been sporadically performing these acoustic sets for nearly three years, this is the band’s first extensive tour and the first stop in New York City, in support of their soon to be released second acoustic album, appropriately titled ‘Acoustic II’. What these three musicians have done with this tour is unparalleled in the world of electronic dance music. Playing these dance music songs to nearly 3,000 completely seated fans, solidify these artists as some of the greatest song writers out there right now – and not just in the world of dance music. As one of the producers said on stage, “Life can be incredibly short, but songs are forever” – and this tour, and these albums, will make sure that these songs will live forever.

It’s not uncommon to see tears in the crowd at an Above & Beyond show. The music is full of messages of hope and happiness, and it’s easy to feel a connection. They talk about things that young people can relate to – love found, love lost, with an overarching message that “everything is going to be ok”. It sounds sappy – well, it is sappy. But aren’t the best love songs sappy? Regardless, it resonates with people, and it was easy to see people getting emotional throughout the evening. With stripped down production and without a booming bass line that makes you want to jump up and down, you can get lost in the music and get a better understanding of the lyrics that you may have already had memorized for years.

In between each song, one of the guys would chat with the crowd for a bit, introduce the next singer, talk about the upcoming song or the experience. It seemed that they were thrilled to be on “Broadway,” and honestly, it felt like attending a Broadway show at times. There was minimal in terms of on stage production – some blue LED lights flashed occasionally, T-Mobile sponsored some light up bracelets that blinked at a few points but added little (hey, somebody has to pay for that string section), and a large screen showed close ups of the singers. During “Another Chance,” a relatively recent collaboration with the band Oceanlab, the screen projected a short animated video that added a fantastic visual accompaniment to the music. With all the ‘Broadway’ talk, a show that mixed these arrangements with some sort of visual story would certainly be welcomed.

Other highlights included “Alone Tonight”, which sounded like it was plucked right out of a James Bond movie, and the big sing-a-longs like “Blue Sky Action”, “We Are All We Need”, “Thing Called Love”, and “Sun and Moon”. But the biggest highlight of all was the experience as a whole. Seeing these fantastic songs, re-imagined in completely different ways, gives them an entirely new life. It really proves Above & Beyond to be great songwriters, more than just producers. Like they said, it shows the songs will live forever.

I spoke to a relatively new fan who, after seeing the show, told me “I get it – a ticket to this show is cheaper than seeing a therapist – you come here, and forget about your problems, you’re surrounded by your friends and you experience this happiness and they tell you that everything is going to be alright – whatever problems you’re going through, we’re all going through ’em together”. That’s why Above & BeyondAbove & Beyond’s radio show is called “Group Therapy” – they know what they are doing. 

[Photo Credit: aLIVE Coverage/Above & Beyond Facebook]