5 Dec 2020
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Gig Review: 28th Annual Gemini Party @ Altitude, Hamilton - 5/06/16

28 Jun 2016 // A review by Carl Hayman

Like many Aucklander's looking to get ahead in life, I made the move down to Hamilton approx. 1 year ago. Music and live shows have been a massive part of my life since god knows when. One of the big swaying factors for me not wanting to move was that I always felt there was a lack of a live music scene in Hamilton. Damn, was I about as wrong as I could possibly be. The scene down here is alive and well, and I dare say it’s hell of a lot more vibrant than the Auckland live scene with no shortage of live bands, and the venues are booked out 5 months in advance for live shows.

One of the massive contributing factors to Hamilton's live music scene being so vibrant is the association with Axe-man Paul Martin.

Over the last 15 years, I’ve met Paul a few times, had a beer or two with him, opened for his band World War Four back in the day, and I had an interview with him when he did his Sunday night show on The Rock with my previous band Epitome.

Every year Paul hosts his birthday bash ‘The Annual Gemini Party’ at Altitude Bar in Hamilton. This was the first time I’ve ever been, but sure as hell I’ll be back next year!

My wife and I arrived about 9pm for the 28thAnnual. There was already plenty of people around, a Chevy Impala parked outside, more leather jackets than Alice Cooper and Ozzy Osbourne's wardrobes combined, and Jack Daniels as far as the eye could see.

Andy Starr was already on stage. All we could hear from the door was someone absolutely ripping on guitar! It sounded like Yngie Melmstein with a live full band. When we edged our way through the crowd, it wasn’t – it was a lone soldier on stage with backing tracks, and the sound was so impressive. Andy really owns the stage with his solo act. He played perfect in time and tune with his backing track, and you would swear there was another 3 members hidden behind a curtain. What a guitarist. An awesome experience to see this man play live.

Next up we caught Ellie May Marshall doing her spiny silk rope thingy hanging 10 metres above the crowd – something like what you would experience in Cirque Du Soleil. She had the entire audience (which I might add was about 500 strong by that time) in a complete trance like state. I had a look around the room, nobody was buying drinks, and all the women were looking angrily at their husbands who couldn’t take their eyes off Ellie.

The boys in 8Forty8 took the stage after everyone had been for another round. These boys kind of remind me of an almost operatic anthem rock style band from the early 80’s. The lead singer's vocals are explosive when he moves into his upper vocal register, and the band are solid and tight. A well polished set – mind you, 20 years of sharing stage with the same guys is an impressive feat in itself. Kudos.

World War Four hit the stage next. With all the Devilskin buzz, I think people had almost forgotten truly how cool WW4 are. They took a backseat for a while, but with a new drummer who moves pretty keenly around a big drum kit, they sound as good now as they ever have. Paul plays guitar and does vocals for WW4 – and he sounds great! Without any disrespect to Devilskin, its almost a shame to see him hidden away from being the front man, so I was pretty stoked to see him leading this 3-piece band that sounded a whole lot more like a 5-piece. I wouldn’t necessarily dub them as being Metal either. I think they have so much diversity to their sound, they could span right from soft rock through to hard heavy metal, and whatever they chose to play, they sound excellent.

Funny that earlier on I mentioned Ozzy Osbourne and leather jackets – the next band to hit the stage were After Forever – a Black Sabbath tribute band. If any of you head along to Ding Dong lounge on a Friday or Saturday in Auckland, you are probably likely to bump into one of the nicest guys in the NZ rock scene by the name of Sharne Scarborough. Most people know Sharne from Just One Fix as the lead guitarist, or more recently from Unleash The Kraken, who opened for Buckcherry at the Powerstation earlier this year. Sharne also plays lead guitar for After Forever who really do sound a whole lot like Black Sabbath. They absolutely rip. I can’t really describe them, but what I would suggest is that Black Sabbath should really think about calling themselves an After Forever tribute band.

All in all an awesome night. Packed to the gunnels. Great venue, great crowd, great music. Will I be going back next year? Hell, yes!

 

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