Category Archives: music

been | Imagine Dragons – Spark Arena

I must confess, I’m not too familiar with Imagine Dragons so wasn’t sure what to expect when they played to a sold-out crowd at Spark Arena on Monday night.

First up, was Australian Indie-Rock group The Temper Trap who have graced our shores before in support of Coldplay many years ago. Warming up the crowd and giving us a terrific set that covered their last few albums – most notably their iconic closing song, Sweet Disposition which seems to be on everyone’s playlist still, nine years after it’s release.

After a change of set which saw a few massive LED screens positioned over the stage, the crowd was ready for Imagine Dragons. The band arrived on stage to massive applause. I immediately noticed lead singer Dan Reynolds was in “Activewear” which is something I don’t expect from a pop-rock band from Las Vegas but hey maybe that’s the rock’n’roll thing to do nowadays.

Opening up with I don’t know why and transitioning into Believer I realised why he was in “Activewear”. Reynolds is the ultimate performer with vocals to match his physicality. He pretty much ran the perimeter of the stage, did some very low squats and high knee runs, muscles glistening with sweat, all while singing.

If you aren’t a fan of Imagine Dragons you would have definitely have heard their music somewhere. It seems to be the number one music choice for contestants who sing on The Voice, American Idol or some other generic singing competition that we all secretly enjoy watching.

The show had a few touching moments, with Reynolds and band dedicating Forever Young (originally by Alphaville, not the Beyonce/Jay-Z version) to the recent school shooting in America and Reynolds talking about managing his depression and anxiety with professional help. Forever Young wasn’t the only cover that night as they also did a beautiful re-imagination of Bob Marley’s Three Little Birds.   Towards the end of the show, the band relocated to the opposite end of the main stage to treat the audience in the back to a more intimate performance which was beautiful.

Peppered throughout the night were confetti shooting out of canons, massive white balloons bouncing around the arena (hello Coldplay 2008), and abstract video imaging on the big LED screens. The band definitely put on a massive performance and they were feeding off of the crowd’s energy; giving us an amazing show.

The band finished off their set on the main stage with their hit Radioactive, incorporating large perspex drums that all members of the band used to great effect. I think most people left the arena that night either feeling very impressed or turned on (or both).

I may not have been a fan heading into the show, but I definitely am now.

Did I mention Reynolds had his shirt off?!

been | Hopeless Fountain Kingdom Tour

Last night, Spark Arena hosted Halsey’s Hopeless Fountain Kingdom Tour, with special guest Kehlani.

It was clear to see how this was Kehlani’s third visit in 6 months; New Zealand is definitely not bored of Kehlani and it didn’t look like they would be anytime soon. With her fair share of fans in the audience, she was greeted with raucous rapture. Singing her chart topping tracks, she entertained the crowd her Distraction, CRZY, and Good Life.

With her enigmatic stage presence, she hypnotised the crowd with her sultry voice and sexy moves. It was perhaps her cover of Into You (Fabolous ft. Tmia) that was the most memorable, she performed with such finesse, I preferred her version to the original.

For 23 year old artist , Kehlani performed like a stage veteran, giving us a memorable performance. She also addressed her devoted LGBTQ fans; telling them not to change who they are and to be proud. A fitting message considering this week’s news stories. I wouldn’t be surprised if we saw her back here again within the next six months.

Now onto the headliner for the night.

Halsey had a plan for her Kiwi fans last night; it was to make sure everyone was having a great time. A plan she executed meticulously.

Halsey graced the stage as a silhouette hiding behind a great white sheet. As soon as she began singing the first verse of Eyes Closed, the sheet was pulled down and she commanded the stage.

Donning a sparkly spandex leotard, accessorised with a headpiece that can only be described as a glittered thin, translucent balaclava, she performed her next three singles with finesse. Amidst her set, she performed a piano version of Closer (by the Chainsmokers). Towards the end of her set, she surprised the crowd, by jumping off stage and walking the perimeter of the arena floor.

Her show and performance was nothing short of electric. She had iridescent visuals, accompanied with lighting, flames and CO2 cannons; and as the crescendo of the show, confetti bombs to end a memorable performance.

Halsey’s true talent as a vocal artist was showcased at the concert. Her vocal range was diverse and unique. Her stage presence is also unique. At point one of the show, Halsey and her dancer jumped into a shallow water pit, kicking water in the crowd, whilst visually stunning, may not have been enjoyed by the security team in front of the stage. Her story telling skills gave context to the chart topping hits she performed.

Despite being 23, Halsey performed put on a show like those with 20 years of performing experience. For Helsey’s first performance in New Zealand, she’s left the crowd wanting more and will be sure to sell out her next tour here.

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interviewed | On the couch with Constantinople

For nearly twenty years the ensemble Constantinople have explored musical diversity through the lens of ‘East meets West’, an ever changing melting pot, much like the city after which they are named.

We sat on the couch with Kiya Tabassian and Ablaye Cissoko backstage at WOMAD NZ.

Read our review and check out photographs from WOMAD NZ 2018.

interviewed | Troublemaker Andrew Papas

Trying to break away from a boy band image can be daunting, particularly when you were part of a double-platinum group that has toured internationally and opened for the likes of Jason Derulo and Mariah Carey. However, Andrew Papas has done just that and succeeded.

A former member of Titanium (NZ’s second boy band), Andrew called it quits in 2015 and set out on his own journey to become a solo artist. A year later, he released his debut single, ‘Burn it Down’. Setting the bar high, the single, produced by Vince Harder, charted well in NZ but also gained traction in across the ditch; reaching 18th position in the Australian Viral Chart on Spotify.

Andrew had a near impossible task to follow up with another successful single – one he’s accomplished with his latest hit, ‘Troublemaker’. A truly nostalgic track for anyone who grew up listening to 80’s greats, Troublemaker is a fun, 80’s pop single, filled hooks and infectious beats. It debuted at No. 2 in the New Zealand Heatseekers Charts and also reached No. 2 in the NZ Viral Charts on Spotify.

We caught up with Andrew before the release of the Troublemaker video; a fun, feel-good 3 minutes. Watch it here.

What was the inspiration for your latest single?
The idea for Troublemaker was to write a fun song about losing yourself in the moment and having fun. It’s based on a boy-meets-girl scenario where I’m trying to convince her to live in the moment and not think about the potential consequences we have to face tomorrow… could maaaaybe be an experience of my own?

When was the last time you forgot your responsibilities and just lived in the moment? What did you do?
I like to plan my days so I find it really hard to just forget everything and let loose but recently I went to Europe and my first stop was Milan. Had no idea where I was and had no plans to do anything as it was only for the night. Ended up walking the streets until the early hours of the morning getting lost. Randomly stumbled across the best carbonara and gelato I had ever tasted in my entire life. Usually, I would have made myself a strict itinerary to follow minute-by-minute but this time I just followed the streets and where the people were. There’s something really awesome about not being able to understand anyone around you, kind of forces you to focus on other things that you would usually look past.

How did you meet Josh and Djeisan?
We met after my managers set up our first studio session together but going in I already knew of both their work and they knew of mine. They’re both really great guys and I feel really honoured to now be working with them.

Are there plans to collaborate with others on any of the tracks?
We have so many awesome New Zealand artists it would be hard to choose. I’d love to collaborate on a track with Kings though. I think he’s really talented. And also Theia. She’s got such a unique voice and I love her writing style.

Is there a full album already in the works? When will that be coming out?
Nothing confirmed yet but that’s the next step. At the moment it’s just writing, writing, writing. The more songs I can churn out the better odds of writing a bunch of hits.

What has the transition been like from boy band member to solo artist?
At first, it was kinda lonely traveling or recording in the studio or even on set for a music video. Not all bad though because now if I get an idea of what I want to write about or what I want my video to look like, for example, I don’t have to check if everyone else likes my idea, I can just do it.

For those who have never heard of you before, how would you describe your sound?
It’ definitely pop but, I’m not afraid to really hit a high note in full voice. Troublemaker specifically has a bit of an 80s vibe to it, which we kinda just stumbled across.

What song would best describe the story of your life?
Feeling Good, the version by Michael Bublé. I love that song. I’m pretty fortunate to have experienced a lot of awesome opportunities cant help but “feel good” about my life and where I’m at, at the moment. I also just love all those classic jazz songs. They seem to really move me in a way some other songs just don’t.

Will you be going out on the road this year?
It’s early days so I’m just getting my set together and getting everything in line. I have a few ideas on where I want to be this year but you’ll have to keep an eye on my social media for the announcements.

Finally, what’s next for you?
More writing, touring and eventually word domination Haha! I want to be the best I can be and to make a name for myself internationally so I can tour the world.

Find ‘Troublemaker’ on SPOTIFY and ITUNES.

been | WOMAD New Zealand 2018

Once a year, New Plymouth transforms from an idyllic, picturesque city near middle Earth, into the globe’s largest platform for World Music – WOMAD festival. The three-day festival returned from 16-18 March, with performers, arts and crafts,ad and cuisines from across the world. There were performers from six of the seven continents on earth, all with a common goal; making music, the universal language.

Day one opened with a bang with Brazilian collective, Bixiga 70 (interview coming soon!). Their progressive Afrobeats set the tone for days to come and got the crowd on their feet. We kept going until Thievery Corporation who closed on the Bowl stage with their fusion of sounds – with everything from Jazz to Indian classic, Middle Eastern and electronica; they were the perfect way to close the day and had the masses dancing to their to their tune.

Brazilian collective, Bixiga 70

Thievery Corporation

Auckland 5-piece, The Miltones made their WOMAD debut on the Brooklands stage. Wearing Brook Tyson (as mentioned in our #SFS chat), front-woman Milly Tabak owned the stage and seduced the crowd with her sultry tones. Their bluesy, folk rock ballads were a hit with the crowd that had gathered for this early set.

The Miltones

Over at the Taste the World stage, Ghanaian goddess, Jojo Abot cooked up a remix of a traditional curry. Between cutting and mixing, she offered the audience a glimpse into life growing up in Ghana and the inspiration behind her music.

Jojo Abot & Jax Hamilton

After a mesmerising show at this year’s Auckland Arts Festival (read our review), Aldous Harding’s mellifluous performance ensured she will be missed as she takes a touring break to work on her new album.

Aldous Harding

There was no time to nurse the hangover on day two with St Patrick’s Day and shades of green in full swing.

We started our day with the stunning Anoushka Shankar and her talented band. They graced the Bowl stage, euphoniously performing songs from her latest album, Land of Gold. Inspired by the Syrian War, the raw emotion behind each track was beautifully transmitted.

Anoushka Shankar

Kamasi Washington was up next. The international Jazz superstar, performed tracks from his album, The Epic. Performing with his band, we were treated to a new form of Jazz, intertwined with hip hop, RnB and progressive music.

Kamisa Washington

Jojo Abot followed later on in the day with her fierce raw enigmatic performance on the Gables stage. Her powerful voice, married with Ghanian and western beats, was the perfect blend to get the crowd jumping. Performing singles from her albums FYFYAWOTO and NGIWUNKULUNKULU, it was a performance we won’t forget easily!

Jojo Abot

Day two was headlined by Havana meets Kingston, a soundclash that joins up Roots, Reggae, Dub and dancehall with Son, Salsa and Rumba. Australian producer, Mista Savona brings together members of the Buena Vista Social Club and some of Cuba’s finest musicians to create an experience that transports you instantly to the streets of Jamaica and Cuba.

Havana meets Kingston

All good things must come to an end, and what an end it was. With a long drive back to Auckland, we only had time for one act on Day 3. We treated ourselves to Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band on the Bowl stage. Their chemistry on stage was electric; transpiring through the performance and into the audience who didn’t stop moving. The hour-long performance felt like a celebration of life and was the perfect way to end our WOMAD 2018 experience.

Pat Thomas & Kwashibu Area Band

Thank you, WOMAD and Thank you, New Plymouth – we’ll be back for more next year!

Check out more photographs from our experience: Day 1 | Day 2 | Day 3

Photographs by Vikesh Patel and Meenal Maharaj. All photographs were taken on a Nikon D850 #IAmNewZealand

SFS | 5 mins with Milly Tabak

The Miltones front-woman Milly Tabak took a break from writing her bluesy folk-rock ballads to chat with us about her band’s upcoming summer festival debut at WOMAD. You can also find them this summer at MarchFest in Nelson.

 

 

Describe your perfect summer music festival in three words

Mud, friends, dancing

Name the top three artists who would make up your ideal festival line-up

The Guess Who, Fleetwood Mac and Janis Joplin

What are you looking forward to most about playing the summer festival circuit?

Showcasing some of the new music we’ve been working on. I locked myself away this summer to write about some stuff I’ve been going through and it’s finally at the stage where I can share it with everyone!

In your opinion, what’s this year’s Summer Anthem?

All the Young Girls Love Alice – Elton John, always.

Out of all your tunes, which one is the one that ‘never fails’?

Gypsy Queen is always a crowd favourite.

What’s are the top 3 tracks on your Spotify playlist?

Nothings Wrong – Haim
Depths – Yumi Zouma
Outstanding – The Gap Band

What’s your personal ‘guilty pleasure’ track

I have sooo many!
That Don’t Impress Me Much – Shania Twain
Ignition – R. Kelly
Ride Wit Me – Nelly

What’s your social media of choice?

Instagram – I’m constantly deleting it off my phone so it doesn’t take over my life. I’m addicted to #cakeporn.

Who do you follow and where?

Anika Moa on Instagram because she’s a funny bitch! I even followed her all the way to America last month to attend the International Folk Alliance in Kansas and she had me in tears the entire time.

What’s your go-to festival outfit?

Anything by the amazing Brook Tyson. Her creations make me feel like a goddess! She’s actually just finished two new pieces for me to rock on stage at WOMAD!

Word association:

  • Music – Life
  • Festival – Dancing
  • Camping – New Years
  • Fashion –  @brooketysonnz
  • Roadie – Singing

Returning for it’s 14th year at the stunning TSB Bowl of Brooklands and Brooklands Park in New Plymouth, WOMAD New Zealand is a celebration of music, arts and dance from around the globe. Buy your tickets here.

SFS | 5 mins with My Bubba

Scandinavian folk duo, My Bubba make soft, soulful music that is playful as it is powerful. Their delicate and disarming creations form a collection of intimate stories, often described as a beguiling and contemporary take on folk music. We chat to them ahead of their WOMAD billing.

Describe your perfect summer music festival in three words
Deer, dancing, swimming hole

Name the top three artists who would make up your ideal festival line-up
Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Paul Simon

What are you looking forward to most about playing the summer festival circuit?
Seeing more of Australia

In your opinion, what’s this year’s Summer Anthem?
The one with all the numbers off of Lambchop’s FLOTUS

Out of all your tunes, which one is the one that ‘never fails’?
Our Samoan clap dance song

What’s are the top 3 tracks on your Spotify playlist?
Right now its Pauline Oliveros 1, 2 and 3

What’s your personal ‘guilty pleasure’ track?
Love on top/Beyoncé

What’s your social media of choice?
Instagram

Who do you follow and where?
The moon

What’s your go-to festival outfit?
Loose linen dresses

Word association:
Music – beauty
Festival – sweaty smiles
Camping – zippers
Fashion – strange
Roadie – love ’em!

Returning for it’s 14th year at the stunning TSB Bowl of Brooklands and Brooklands Park in New Plymouth, WOMAD New Zealand is a celebration of music, arts and dance from around the globe. Buy your tickets here.