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  • Shihad - Gig Review: Shihad, The Datsuns, I Am Giant & Cairo Knife Fight @ Matakana Country Park 3/1/2015

Shihad - Gig Review: Shihad, The Datsuns, I Am Giant & Cairo Knife Fight @ Matakana Country Park 3/1/2015

16 Jan 2015 // A review by Andrew Smit

On a sparkling day a faithful rock crowd flowed into the picturesque Matakana Country Park and they were ready to rock, the sun was shining and the air was clear, perfect for an outdoor rock event and so at 5.45pm it was a delight to hear the silence broken by a guitar throbbing its distorted beauty - I think it was a just a little sound check but it got our attention, and thus began our very cool warm up as manifested by Cairo Knife Fight. A very entertaining crew of two, with very crunchy guitar paired with solid hypnotic drum rhythms. Drummer and vocalist Nick Gaffaney also managed to provide bass from a piece of equipment next to him and at one stage the duo managed to get their instruments to play themselves, they were able to walk away while a psychedelic sampled loop took over, enthralling the crowd and had us inquisitively waiting to see how it would all end, which it did with a good old thrashing and grinding which we all loved.

I have to say how well staged and organised the event was, plenty of staff servicing the bars and food areas, there were no queues at the bar or the ATM’s or even the surprisingly clean Portaloos, so well done to the organisers.

The vibe went up a gear when I Am Giant began their set, with new vocalist Ryan Redman energetically jumping around the stage under the bright summer sun. Ryan apologised about his voice being a bit hoarse, but for the most part he sounded fine, it was a bit noticeable on the higher parts of their hit Transmission but everyone just enjoyed hearing all their great songs performed live and loud and cheered their appreciation wholeheartedly. The band sounded in perfect sync with a mega powerful bass and guitar sound swathed around steadfast drumming. Ryan claimed it was his first trip to NZ and understandably was thrilled with the place and beamed about how good the tour was, you think… we were so jealous, every rock wanna be would die to tour NZ in summer with the likes of The Datsuns and Shihad as your drinking buddies!

Next up was The Datsuns who engaged with the crowd and enthralled us with their enduring classic rock vibe, with the sun slowly setting behind the stage the now very eager mosh pit could enjoy the cool shadow spilling off the stage. Lead man Dolf de Borst had control of the mob who complied gratuitously when requested to crouch down and then stay down until the band got loud, upon which we were told to “lose your shit”, which was more than enough incentive for the pack to jump and flail about in a mindless rhythmic move (when said band did get loud). It sounds like the guys are going on an extended break, hopefully we see them back soon, for they are a very popular live act who impressed everyone with their performance tonight.

But now it's 9pm and it's finally getting dark, we all are eager to experience Shihad, many are seeing them for the first time, and would no doubt have heard that these guys are a formidable force live, so the excitement and expectation levels are high. When the band hit the stage the pack moved in closer and boom we’re straight into Think You’re So Free and it sounds awesome, the grunge of the guitar and Jon Toogood's vox are better than the recording, so powerful and yet so crisp. Like a machine Shihad have just clicked into gear, it was expected but not taken for granted, everyone respects that to show up and perform continuously at this high standard, requires a profound amount of talent coupled with a colossal positive attitude which Shihad have in buckets. Jon talked about how we should all try and be honest with each other, and how they were sick of people lying to them, someone recently must have done a number on them as he reiterated it later in the show. Shihad’s pure form of rock was engrossing and relentless, this is what the punters have paid for, to be taken away from the normality of life and just get lost in the world conjured up by the sound and rhythm of heavy rock! The mosh pit grew sweatier as the night progressed but never did it waiver in its quest to flatten the grass and reach for the skies in a bounding mass of ephemeral rock disciples. Tom Larkin on drums was a mechanised human pace maker that never missed a perfect beat, and thus Karl Kippenberger’s powerful bass and Phil Knight's soaring guitar could grind in sublime sync with absolute confidence, and they did. Jon’s vocals were perfect throughout, he played his guitar and sang with a strength and energy that belied the fact they had done 7 gigs in the last 8 days. They made us feel like a fraternity of fans, and appropriately ended the set with the Coming Home. We wanted more, after all it was only 10.30? but we made our way out in an orderly fashion feeling satisfied and fulfilled in spades.


About Shihad

Picture this… 1988, Bob Hawke is Prime Minister, Australia dumps $600 million bucks of tax payer cash on Expo 88, Home and Away hits our tellies for the first time, Triple J launch the Hottest 100, Nintendo release the Game Boy, free University education is no longer an option, and over in Wellington NZ, the Southernmost capital city in the world, Jon Toogood and Tom Larkin are busily creating a heavy rock band…. A monstrous band that would end up becoming one of New Zealand’s most loved, respected and successful exports… Kia ora Shihad!

Fast forward to 2020… Jon, Tom, lead guitarist Phil Knight (who they found through a music shop notice board ad in 1989) and bass player Karl Kippenberger, who joined the band in 1993, (from being a fan) have released nine studio albums (five of which went to #1 in NZ). They survived a name change propelled by Jihad becoming a staple negative reference in the global vernacular thanks to 9/11 (Shihad became Pacifier, and returned to Shihad), personal triumphs and tragedies, travelled all over the world with endless tours, selling out headline shows and sharing stages at major local and international festivals, and touring with musical heroes like Motorhead, Metallica, Faith No More and AC/DC to name a few! In 2010 they were inducted into the New Zealand Music’s Hall Of Fame. And just like Neil Finn, Russell Crowe and every other successful person or idea to come out of NZ… Australia quickly adopted them as our own, showering them with ARIA nominations, adoration and ownership of their global success.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Shihad


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