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Gig Review: The Church Tour @ Chapel of Christ The King, Hamilton - 22/09/16

03 Oct 2016 // A review by mciver29

As a 32 year old former Catholic the idea of going to a Church to see 4 artists that found recognition in the early 80's was a strange one, I had a few conflicting feelings but also knew that Churches quite often have fantastic acoustics and have often wondered about playing in grand cathedrals myself. I suppose my first feeling was a little disappointment when we arrived to the venue and it wasn't a cathedral, rather a large Church but still had the big pipe organs etc...and there was no wine on offer ;)

The line-up for the Church Tour is Hammond Gamble, Shona Laing, Debbie Harwood and Sharon O'Neill – all artists that any older Kiwi would be familiar with given they heard the hit singles: Melting Pot, Asian Paradise, Glad I'm Not A Kennedy, Maxine, 1905.

I enjoyed seeing all 4 artists collaborate on stage all lending their voices to each others songs and mixing the 2 sets up so each had their moment in the spotlight at various times throughout the evening. Though I was hoping for a full backline of drums, bass, guitars and keyboards we were met halfway with guitars and keyboards which at times left me feeling like the songs were a little bit empty though filled richly with vocal harmonies and Hammond's tasteful lead guitar playing.

As I write this just over a week after the concert what still stands out to me is Shona Laing's set, her well aged track 1905left a strong impression on me. Laing had a youthful, cheeky energy and her performances had a slight rawness that the 3 other performers seemed to lack but that's not take anything away from them.... Debbie and Sharon both sang beautifully and shared some stories behind their songs and, as mentioned, Gamble's playing and voice (though experiencing some technical problems) added a good balance of female/male vocals and energy to the stage.

I can't help but think that NZ over looked Shona Laing's music for a long time, she reminded me of someone that you could sit down with for a smoke and a jam while enjoying stories of the music scene that seemingly left NZ in the mid 90's. After the concert I felt inclined to hit up YouTube to educate myself more on Laing's music and the strength in her lyrics and delivery continue to hold up against today's “popular” artists.

Over all the evening was filled with classic New Zealand songs, a lot of fun between artists and all set in a beautiful location. As a songwriter it was a treat to see these songs performed live as they were on constant radio rotation as a child in the mid 80's, I would have loved to see a full backing band but understandably a stripped back set would suit Churches a little better.

The Church Tour is worth checking out and also worth supporting these 4 artists that have given us so many great songs to look back on and enjoy over the years!

 

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