28 May 2019

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Gig Review: Family of Strangers Tour @ Kings Arms, Auckland - 6/05/17

08 May 2017 // A review by Sarah Sampson

The music world for me is one giant crazy dysfunctional family and that was my experience of the Family of Strangers Tour, a huge, giant family reunion. Aside from the bands, it was amazing to see so many of my music family from the last 9 (or so) years of my being involved in the NZ Music Community, the name of the tour encapsulated the spirit of the event 110%. The atmosphere of the crowd was almost like the bands had been on tour for months and were finally home (although, I guess for These Four Walls, they had come home after living in Australia as long as they have). The added stage riser, lighting and smoke machine also spoke to BV Entertainment's history as stage tech for many, many local and International Tours and Music Events, the production was top quality, as was the sound as always when Mark is behind the desk at the Kings Arms.

All of the bands performed like they were coming home, all four where feeding the crowd with their own intense energies, and in return the crowd was lapping it up and giving it right back to the bands. Right from the first band, Blue Ruin, there were people right up the front dancing and head banging and this continued right the way through the night.  I have to admit I missed the first few Blue Ruin songs but from the moment I opened the double doors at the front of the Kings Arms, Blue Ruin showed they were there to hold no prisoners.  My favorite song of Blue Ruin’s was Green River Thriller which is a new single they released on the 2nd of May. (It’s available on Spotify, Bandcamp and ITunes). It is the perfect amount of catchy with enough distorted guitar riffs for it to not be too catchy (as I write this, this song has been in my head for two days now) I was sad to learn that vocalist Jessie is leaving the band so we wait with anticipation to see who fills her big (small in real life) shoes.

Auckland Trio Armed in Advance were next on stage and despite only being a 3 piece they had a full sound with the same take no prisoners attitude that Blue Ruin had and came on stage firing and instantly the crowd was moving.  Armed In Advance are known as a ‘Heavy Rock’ band but you can tell their different influences with songs ranging from an almost ‘Funk’ style bass line or drum beat to their cover they play of No Diggity. There were two songs from Armed in Advance that I absolutely loved, one is a new song that hasn’t been recorded yet calledPain. I’ve been told that this is one of the next songs they will be recording I can tell you that I am very much looking forward to it. The drum fills and break downs in this song with lyrics like ‘these are the best days of our lives’ summed up the night for me perfectly. With any genre of music that I might find myself listening to it is the Rhythm section which captures my attention and the other song that I absolutely loved was Mistakes and Memories as JP puts down his guitar and the only music is the bass and drums. This could be a risky move with any other band but the music and JP's voice are at one in this song and each element compliments the others perfectly. Over all I really enjoyed Armed in Advance's set, I think there was one or two songs where the music could have done with another guitar as it almost seemed like something was lacking but I absolutely loved the bass tone, drum lines and JP is a very talented vocalist being able to switch between raw powerful growls and screams to clean singing effortlessly.

When His Master's Voice take the stage all eyes are instantly drawn to Jesse in his Poncho and when I first saw him I instantly thought of Jimi Hendrix, Steve Vai and other legendary guitarists from that era. This is the first time I have seen them live and stood back and observed for any of their set, rather than getting right in the middle of the crowd and participating in the ritual straight away. Standing back and observing was a very interesting experience and it was amazing to see the power and hypnotic effect His Masters Voice have on a room of people, not just me, and by the end of the first song everyone that had been standing back next to me observing had left me at the back and were moving to the music. By the end of the second song I don’t think there was one person left standing in the room, it was a sea of waving arms, grinding, writhing bodies and heads banging in time to the rhythm. His Masters Voice were on fire and even though I’m struggling to remember just how many times I’ve seen them in recent months (At least 3) they were all moving as one, performing the same ritual, the most united I have ever seen and heard them perform. It was like witnessing Magick live on stage and I definitely got the sense that I was witnessing a very special ritual, and looking around the crowd with their eyes closed, huge grins on their faces, and every single person moving, I got the sense that each crowd member were also experiencing their own private rituals. I couldn’t stand still and observe the whole set, it wasn’t long until the music drew me in and I was hypnotized like everyone around me by The Devils Blues, His Master's Voice will become famous for. Once His Master's Voice had finished performing I was collecting my thoughts on what I had witnessed and felt during their set and I think this pretty much sums up my feelings for this band. Watching live music for me is like a drug I can’t get enough of. Watching and experiencing His Master's Voice weaving their Magick while performing their ritual is a very similar feeling to watching a favourite international artist perform and I have no doubt that His Master's Voice are a band that are going to go places. 

These Four Walls closed the night and I was so excited about seeing them again as a show they did with Redline in around 2008 (none of us are 100% sure when it was) was one of the first events I helped out with. That show I remember as one of the first shows that drew me into the world of wanting to be on the other side (not just being a punter) so thanks’ guys for being one of my influencing bands.

I didn’t think that the crowd would have much energy left after how much they were moving during His Master's Voice but I was proven wrong right from the very first guitar strum. It didn’t take long for the crowd to get into it and I think it was only the 3rd song in that the first crowd member climbed on a friends shoulders. In fact by the end of the set I don’t think I’ve seen that many people on shoulders at the Kings Arms during one bands set, EVER! These four Walls played the perfect mix of newer songs and old songs and fast heavy ROARING songs mixed with a few softer ones. The crowd absolutely LOVED These Four Walls and kept their energy going right until the very last song! Like His Master's Voice I was transported to so many places in my mind when These Four Walls were playing and I can honestly say I haven’t seen many other New Zealand bands with the same polish that these two bands have.

For me the theme of family was repeated over and over on stage all night. Every single band, at least once, got their crowds to cheer for the other bands and all congratulated each other on good shows and thanked the promoter, BV Entertainment, for putting on such a well-run tour. My only regret at the end of the night was that it had come to an end. It was a truly amazing night, surrounded by Family.


Other Reviews By Sarah Sampson

Gig Review: Plum Green @ Whammy Bar, Auckland - 1/02/2019
08 Feb 2019 // by Sarah Sampson
Occasionally a show happens where every single performance artist is on fire, performing from the soul, baring everything, connecting with the audience and feeding off the audience, in that magical, etheric zone where performing artist and audience becomes one. Right from the first note of Shoddy the crowd was dancing, their attentions on the various rituals occurring before them.
Gig Review: Slash w/ Myles Kennedy and Devilskin @ Spark Arena, Auckland - 26/01/2019
27 Jan 2019 // by Sarah Sampson
As per usual I was running late to the show, so I missed the first few opening songs of (not so local, now) legends Devilskin. Writing this now I am so gutted I didn’t get to witness their powerful set in its entirety as, in my opinion, they showed up the headliners and it was clear from the amount of Devilskin merch that fans were wearing around the show and from the crowd response that this was indeed Devilskin’s night.
Eight Eyed Orchid - EP Review: One by One & Two by Two
16 Nov 2018 // by Sarah Sampson
About 10 years ago if I had heard this EP I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate its complex intricacies. As I write this, I’m on my 5th listen and I keep noticing more; more layers, depth, complexities I missed the previous times I’ve listened to it.
Levi Sesega - Gig Review: Levi with The Free Wind @ Wine Cellar, Auckland
18 Sep 2018 // by Sarah Sampson
I have seen both Brendon and Levi perform with their Rock bands before – Brendon Thomas & the Vibes and Tribal State and knew how talented and how sonically stunning their voices are but I wasn’t prepared for how these two truly talented musicians would sound with the emphasis being more on their voices, than being backed by full bands. Normally I find myself getting bored with too much clean singing and often prefer death metal growls to clean singing.
Gig Review: Katy Perry @ Spark Arena, Auckland - 20/08/2018
21 Aug 2018 // by Sarah Sampson
This is the story of how a heavy metal journalist ended up surprisingly enjoying themselves at a POP show – the amazing extravaganza that is Katy Perry’s ‘Witness’ tour. I knew that as a pop show it would be an amazing show - that’s an understatement!
Gig Review: Left or Right @ Whammy Bar, Auckland - 13/07/2018
10 Aug 2018 // by Sarah Sampson
After 6 months of traveling Europe and the UK I’ve found it an adjustment coming back to NZ for a number of reasons – one of which being shows not having the first band on till 9pm, when in UK and England 9pm would be the 2nd to last band as most shows finish around 11pm which is AMAZING – especially on a week night, another adjustment is that in New Zealand (well for 4/5 shows I’ve attended, worked or reviewed in the last two weeks) is that there’s hardly anyone at the show for the first band. It’s so hard going first in Auckland, as it’s common to pre-drink and not make it out till 10, but Leighton Fairle did an amazing job.
Farandicus - Single Reviews: Blue Funk and What to Give
04 May 2018 // by Sarah Sampson
Farandicus are a 7-piece soul funk band from Whangarei combing their different backgrounds to create a unique sound that will get your soul singing and feet tapping. They have recently released two new singles Blue Funk and What to Give, and I think are both songs everyone can relate to – especially their lyrical content.
His Masters Voice - EP Review: Woman
29 Sep 2017 // by Sarah Sampson
This EP is for all the beautiful souls that dance up the front of a His Masters Voice performance, it is for the people that close their eyes and feel the music, for those that loose themselves in the music, the souls that get Goosebumps and go on journeys in their minds when the music hits that perfect note.  This is a very clever recording with three songs the band already perform live but the crowning glory in this EP is their new song Woman, although that is a VERY hard call to make as the other three songs all invoke the memories in me of the different times I’ve seen His Masters Voice, in Wellington when I accompanied them down on the mammoth road trip down and back in two days, or Hamilton last year when Az blew my mind with some American Music opportunities, New Plymouth at Brutalitee’s Birthday Bash and of course all the times I’ve seen them in Auckland.
View All Articles By Sarah Sampson

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