Category Archives: music

been | Alt-J

Coming off the high from their wildly successful first and second albums (An Awesome Wave and This is All Yours) Alt-J released their much anticipated third album earlier this year. RELAXER is a collection of 8 hit-or-miss tracks leaving even die-hard fans a little underwhelmed. So, naturally when they announced their RELAXER tour I was disappointed all the focus would be on their least exciting album. However, I couldn’t stand to miss standout tracks like ‘In Cold Blood’ and ‘Deadcrush’ live in Town Hall.

First let me mention the outstanding performance by Clap Clap Riot, the Kiwi five-piece Indie-Rock band who opened the night. They warmed up the crowd with head-banging tunes capturing the attention of the crowd quickly. ‘Crickets in the Grass’ off their new album Dull Life was a definite crowd-pleaser. The lead singer belted ballads and thrashed his guitar with band mates joining him on a bass guitar, keys/guitar and a powerful drum beat.

As a self-proclaimed lighting geek, I took note of the long lights hanging on stage in the dark and waited with anticipation for them  to light up the venue in a dramatic fashion. I was not disappointed, the lights were fascinating, often taking form of skyscrapers. Town Hall was made for shows like this.

Alt-J took their places on stage where they remained for the entirety of the show, the lights acting at times like a cage over each band member. They opened with one of stand out tracks on RELAXER, ‘3WW’ before diving into fan-favourite ‘Something Good’. The sound was stunning, something I’ve come to expect from the venue.

Although there was minimal crowd interaction, Alt-J knew what the crowd wanted serving up nine tracks from An Awesome Wave and five from This Is All Yours. My fears of the show being too RELAXER focused were quickly put to bed. Their set-list was masterfully crafted, including the four best songs from RELAXER sprinkled throughout ending with ‘Pleader’ surprisingly being a show-stopper with it’s choir-like vocals and haunting violin.

The band quickly returned to stage for a thrilling encore of ‘Intro’, ‘Left Hand Free’ and ‘Breezeblocks’ ending the evening with the crowd pleading “Please don’t go/I love you so, I love you so”.

It was one of those shows I immediately mourned the ending of. 5/5.

see the skyscrapers?

been | Sia

Sia made her return to Auckland, New Zealand at the very same venue she appeared at at 2011’s Big Day Out. Although this time around, things were slightly different. Apart from performing on a much bigger stage and with a massive catalogue of hit singles, Sia receded into the background allowing star dancer Maddie Ziegler to take center stage. With no live band, the stage was bare except for Sia in her signature wig and the dancers.

Performances were supported by pre-recorded videos that featured actors such as Kristen Wiig which was looped in with a live feed of the show. Sia sang all her massive hits effortlessly including ones penned for other artists such as Diamonds written for Rihanna.

The concert was unlike any I have been to, in that the main artist was not the sole focus on stage. I think we’re so accustomed to going to concerts expecting the main act to provide all the entertainment and this was definitely not like that. The Nostalgic For The Present Tour could be best described as a Maddie Ziegler and Sia collaboration. Sia’s live vocals are an amazing accompaniment to Maddie’s explosive and dynamic dancing which made for a great show.

The tour included support from MØ, Charli XCX and Theia; having missed the latter two I was happy we made it in time for Danish pop-star MØ who gave us a great set. Included in her performance were two Major Lazer songs that she was featured in, Cold Water and Lean On. There was a nice sing-a-long moment with an acoustic rendition of Cold Water.

The Nostalgic For The Present Tour would probably have mixed reactions considering it didn’t exactly follow a traditional pop concert format, but I think it was a pretty special show. It’s admirable for an artist like Sia who shies away from the limelight to be able to put together a show that is exciting and entertaining, without her being in the spotlight.

been | The Weeknd

How do you become a Motherf**kin Starboy?

Canada has given so much to the world….Justin Trudeau, Bryan Adam, Celine Dion, Drake, Maple Syrup and even Justin Bieber!

And another great Canadian graced our shores last night and filled Spark Arena to the rafters….The Weeknd

In his first ever NZ performance, The Weeknd ‘turnt up!” The crowd were treated to one of the best concerts of the year. Accompanied by his live Band, he performed his biggest hits of his career so far. Opening the show with his chart topping single Starboy, the performance set the bar for the rest of his hour long set.

He took the crowd on a musical journey of his career performing singles from his mixtapes – House of Balloons, Thursday and Echoes of Silence, along with a rare performance of Angel – a favourite single of his, from his second album, Beauty behind the Madness. He also gave breathtaking performances of his other chart topping singles Wicked Games, Can’t feel my face and I feel it Coming. Complemented by the visuals and a triangular, floating lighting rig, made for a showstopping concert.

The Weeknd also appeared to be very humbled by the crowd reaction, whose cheers and calls for an encore were deafening. He thanked the crowd on several occasions promising to return to New Zealand every year.

Let’s hope he sticks to his promise so that many more can see the motherf**kin Starboy!

interviewed | Rap Sensation Melvin Bailey

The comedy musical Love Me Tinder is coming to Auckland this week. Stephen Sinclair has directed and produced a hilarious perspective on the path of love in the age of Tinder. The show, who is for anyone with a smart phone and an open heart, was a sell-out at the Auckland Live’s International Cabaret Season last year.

Love me Tinder is the story of Zoe and Daren who meet on the ubiquitous dating site. They are compatible in so many ways, but Tinder’s on-going temptations then threatens to tear them apart. The show lets the audience witness the train wreck of a Tinder date going disastrously wrong.

The musical has been rewritten and developed for this year’s show. I chat to local rap sensation Melvin Bailey AKA Kloos, who has created suave and seductive lyrics for Love Me Tinder.

Melvin, who was just fifteen when he started rapping, explained how the script has been adjusted for the second season, and all of the music is now original. He said: “The show is about relationships and how the advancement of technology has affected the ways in which we communicate.”

Melvin is excited about acting alongside Jennifer Austin and Stephen Lunt, who play Zoe and Daren.

When asked how he got into rapping, Melvin said: “I love music and naturally Hip-Hop suited me, I wrote bits of poetry whilst studying at university and thought why not lay those verses down. It was my new year’s resolution for 2015 to make a mixtape, and once I did that, I simply carried on.”

I asked Melvin about his personal experiences with Tinder. He said: “We were encouraged to download the app last year for research purposes but I lasted less than five minutes. I’m more of a walk up to you and chat kind of guy.”

At last year’s Auckland Live International Cabaret Season, Melvin thought it was awesome to partake in the lively vibe in town. This year, he said he’s excited about “being part of the music once again, and having the opportunity to perform at the Comedy Club, which puts everyone at the heart of it all.”

After the show finishes, Melvin is hoping to get tickets to see Drake and celebrate all of the shows hard work. He will then focus on solo projects. He said: “My debut EP has been in the works for some time now, but the finish line is in sight.”

Melvin gets his inspiration form Kendrick Lamar, J Cole, Chance The Rapper, Childish Gambino and Lute. He said: “These guys are skilled and force me to go further with my lyrical content. Through their words, they alter my perspective and I’m left with a greater appreciation of life. I hope that one day I can do the same for someone else.”

Melvin’s advice for aspiring rappers is: “Create tracks that you enjoy and be honest in your output.” He gets his inspiration from life, “each day is a blessing, regardless of what happens.”

Love Me Tinder returns to bar Freida Margolis in New Lynn on Sunday 29th and Monday 30th October, then plays at The Classic Comedy Bar on Queen Street from Thursday 2nd to Saturday 4th November. Book your tickets here.

been | London Grammar

They say good things come to those who wait and Kiwi fans of London Grammar were certainly kept in anticipation on Saturday night.  

Nearly half an hour later than scheduled, London Grammar graced the stage of Auckland’s Spark Arena and fans were awarded for their loyalty.  Over 5,000 were eagerly waiting to see London Grammar’s first ever New Zealand performance and they weren’t disappointed.

Starting with a minimalistic performance of Rooting for you, Hannah’s unique and mellisonant voice resonated throughout the arena.  Performing songs from both their albums, die-hard fans sang along to every song while the majority of the crowd bellowed to their chart-topping singles; Hey Now and Strong.

The subtle lighting and colour washes, their humble approach, and the emotion on their faces made it a mesmerising performance to watch.  This was further complemented by their unique ability to make the arena performance feel intimate.

My only gripe; after spending hours vocal training at local Karaoke bars, practising for my time to sing-along to their cover of Bitter Sweet Symphony, I was disappointed to hear it wasn’t part of their hour-long set.  Still, London Grammar gave a fantastic performance and I hope we see them on shores again.

Check out all the photographs from their performance here.

been | Cole

How much charisma does it take to fill the Auckland Town Hall? If you’re Michael Griffiths, consider the building bursting.

The spirit of Cole Porter lives in Griffiths, who has been portraying Porter for 3 years in this show. From the moment Griffiths stepped onstage – complete with Porter-esque limp – the spell was cast for an hour of marvellous musical magic.

As with the best cabaret, all of the glamour and fun of the genre combined beautifully with hints of melancholy as Mr Porter regaled us with the highs and lows of his life and career; taking in Paris, New York, a marriage of convenience, love lost and found, and the riding accident that nearly ended his career. These moments, retold wittily and wistfully, but never self-pityingly, were touchingly revealing, and Porter’s greatest hits are cleverly woven into the narrative, musically illustrating the story.

Typically matinee audiences are subdued, but Griffiths in mischievous style alternately teased, cajoled and affectionately bullied the assembly until we were transformed into his own private singalong chorus. A gorgeous setting – complete with glittering curtains at the doors, romantic lighting, roses on the tables, and a particularly well-deployed mirrorball– completed the spell.

Like the most pleasing of parties, the hour flew by in the blink of an eye. I didn’t want it to end. Five stars.

Grab tickets HERE.

been | The Legend Of Zelda – Symphony Of The Goddesses

At E3 2011, Jason Michael Paul Productions produced a 4 minute overture to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the iconic Zelda franchise. The clip contained footage from the various titles paired with an arrangement of some of the stirringly beautiful themes the series is famous for which, for anyone who’s spent even a moment of their childhood wrapped up in the saga of Link and Zelda, was one hell of a nostalgia trip. Shortly after the event a full concert was announced whose success would eventually lead to the creation of “The Legend of Zelda: Symphony of the Goddesses” to which I had the unique pleasure of seeing on the evening of the 14th of August at Auckland’s Civic theatre.

Multiplay Insomnia60 at NEC – Matthew King/iEventMedia

The show begins with the aforementioned overture, conducted with infectious enthusiasm by award winning Australian conductor Jessica Gethin, and performed by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra with assistance from the haunting Freemason Chorus. The performers are accompanied by the very same footage from the E3 presentation projected upon the back of the stage behind the Chorus.

The closing of the overture precedes an early teary eyed applause from series fans and newcomers alike and is followed by a brief introduction from Jason Michael Paul and a short clip from the one and only Shigeru Miyamoto himself. Not the last we see of the legendary game director as he makes a further announcement towards the end of the show, espousing his love for the series and the personal impact it’s had on him. He’s joined by two further clips, one from designer and current director of the Zelda series – Eiji Aonuma (who began his work with the series during the spectacular “Ocarina of Time”) and the renowned video game composer Koji Kondo.

Each piece of music is expertly choreographed to footage of the particular title it’s inspired from. It’s not just promotional footage either: a good deal of the scenes are actual gameplay meaning someone played through and recorded them for the show (I like to imagine Mr Paul did a start to finish “Let’s Play” of all 30 years worth of games for this himself). The masterful pairing with the swelling and pacing of the score suggests the clips were chosen by someone with a love for the series and, while a couple of clips felt like slightly odd choices, the vast majority of footage fit in sublimely and included enough chicken chasing and Master Sword pulling to satisfy everyone.

The pieces include arrangements from many of the greatest games in the series. Act one begins with a composition of the Dragon Roost Island theme from Wind Waker which, as the piece draws to a close, has the orchestra bathed in crimson light while showing Links dramatic battle with Gohma in the caverns. The stage lighting is used to great effect throughout immersing you even further from the vibrant greens of the Plains of Epona during a piece from Breath of the Wild to the deep blue of the Great Sea during Movement III – The Wind Waker.

I could more than happily talk about each piece in detail but, as Miyamoto says himself that “life, just as in the game, is full of surprises” and the surprises of this show really need to be experienced in person. The show will be moving on to Perth on the 24th of August and Singapore on the 26th before returning to Melbourne for two more shows on the 3rd of September. I implore you, if you’re able, crack open some pots and collect as many Rupees as you can to make it to one of these showings. You will not be disappointed.

Hyah!

 

 

 

Visit the Official Website HERE