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Gig Review: Villainy @ The Kings Arms, Auckland - 14/10/16

28 Oct 2016 // A review by Andrew Smit

Auckland's Iconic Kings Arms has witnessed many celebrated nights of rock revelry and this particular performance from Kiwi Rockers Villainy with Skinny Hobos will go down as one of the best.

Kicking off with Skinny Hobos the impressive crowd was amped and attentive to the two men on stage, opening with their mesmerizing track Sevenatenine we all were awoken and hurled into the rock frenzy that they create so well. Alex Texas on the guitar was looking bold and business like with his sunglasses and impressive beard, his voluminous guitar sound was skilfully driven by the sumptuous drum sound delivered by Sam Holdom, with his even more impressive beard, and although shirtless he did retain a business look by keeping on his thin red tie. Alex has an impressive guitar rig that he works with proficient ease and garners a fat sound that more than makes up for the missing bass guitar. The two men sing very well too, the lead from Alex was always strong and tuneful and the backing from Sam was always pitched perfect and harmonious, what more can you want in rock!

Everyone enjoyed immensely the music they created and also the funny banter that they deliver between songs, like when Alex professed that he loves his guitar more than humans, cheese burgers and even more than Sam we had a good laugh, even though were sure they have used that line before!

The Hobos songs are a passionate mix of power jams and bluesy rock excursions that keep you hooked and wanting more. Their radio hit The Merchant of Tirau proved they recorded a real sound as they peeled off the song as if they were miming to the track, but of course it was better live! Their new single Jokers and Fools proved they have many more ear popping songs to make our heads bang and feet pound the ground, with Alex ripping into the tune with melodic singing and grinding riffs. All the show the drum beats from Sam were dead on, but most impressively he provided nifty and unique rhythmic variations that give each track a personified hobo rhythm. I know I am looking forward to experiencing them again live, and I know I’m not alone.

And then bang it was Villainy, opening with the track No Future which had the crowd bounding into the air with unrestrained abandon. Villainy always impress with their distinct tough rock sound, and they have such great songs and they deliver them with such aggressive perfection live that makes them sound even better than the recorded material. They played the hit songs from their phenomenal debut album Mode Set Clear and the newish tracks from their latest album Dead Sight, and although the well-known songs like Ammunition and Alligator Skin went off, the new songs clearly are a step up with a more authoritative edge that comes off awesome live.

I have had the pleasure of 4 Villainy gigs over last few years and these 4 guys are developing and growing in rock ferocity on each occasion, I have no doubt they are on the road to world domination. So what makes Villainy so damn good? Simply put their songs are extremely good, cleverly thought out well crafted. The distinct, high range and well-pitched vocals delivered by front man Neill Fraser are powerful yet clear and consistently vibrant, coupled with superb harmonies that are exceptionally suited for this genre, they always lift the performance from bloody good to world class brilliance. They deliver a modern powerful Industrial rock sound, that is not too dissimilar to NZ rock god legends Shihad, no doubt helped along by the guidance of Tom Larkin, who spent the evening watching like a proud father from side stage.

Like Shihad their songs are loaded with infectious hooks, pre chorus bridges and a 90’s punk pop that never goes bubble gum, it may get close at times, but they reign it back with a heavy stomping rhythmic verse or a sudden stop that kills any chance of an overly repetitive section taking over.  Of course Neill is one of the 4 who create the sound with Thom Watts' Guitar, James Dylan’s Bass, and Dave Johnston’s Drums combining to create a sound so broad and fat you begin to scan the stage for synthesizers, but none is to be seen, maybe it’s all down to traditional foot operated stomp boxes.  

They are clearly gelling and growing in confidence, but I can happily report that the biggest difference from when I first saw them is the wonderful throng of support that is growing in numbers and passion, the punters are aware that Villainy is special and they are appreciating them more with every gig. Neill acknowledged the fact that everyone was jumping, from front to back and not just the first 4 rows which is so often the case, “it’s like a fucking party” he roared.

If the last song of the night is anything to go by these lads are going to continue to grow their support base, with Neill enthusiastically pulling at least 15 punters up on stage to thrash out their last song, I have never seen this level of engagement before but it came across as the natural thing to do and a perfect ending to a perfect gig.

About Villainy

vill·uh·nee /ˈvilənç/
Noun: 1. The actions or conduct of a villain; outrageous wickedness.
2. Maniacal rock band from Auckland, New Zealand.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Villainy


Dead Sight
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Mode. Set. Clear.
Year: 2012
Type: Album

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