19 Dec 2018

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  • Fire For Glory - Gig Review: Hawthorne Heights with Fire For Glory @ Kings Arms Tavern, Auckland - 05/09/2017

Fire For Glory - Gig Review: Hawthorne Heights with Fire For Glory @ Kings Arms Tavern, Auckland - 05/09/2017

07 Sep 2017 // A review by Alex Moulton
"Listen, Morty, I hate to break it to you, but what people call "love" is just a chemical reaction that compels animals to breed."

The quote from the hit American adult animated sci-fi sitcom drew attention, as an early start to the evening had opening act Fire For Glory up on stage well before 8pm. The band that frequently referred to themselves as the band "from up the f**king road" are a pop punk group, with a good stage presence. Whether it was the early start time or the fact it was a Tuesday night, the crowd was initially few and far between, but that didn't stop the group from making the most of their time at the Kings Arms Tavern. Frontman, Josh Pinho, jumped straight into their set list, bouncing back and forwards, and climbing atop the monitors, Pinho performed as if he were in front of a crowd of 20,000 at Spark Arena.

Fire For Glory have a very light sound; this was emphasised by a somewhat uneven balance of sound. Most instruments were only audible in one-half of the venue, so you only got a true representation of the sound if you were right in the middle, but you could see the Pinho and their guitarist with a head full of dreadlocks really carried the group musically. With a sound that comes across like a modern-day 48 May mixed with Yellowcard, they attempt to combine light-hearted music with the bass drop, to try to encourage the switch from head nodding to moshing. Pinho has quite the knack for banter and revels in being able to address the patrons, offering free merch and conveying his thanks for the opportunity to perform, before going onto a cover of Fall Out Boy's Grand Theft Autumn / Where Is Your Boy. A wholesome performance overall, with some good talent on show.

Next up is the headliner Hawthorne Heights. Originating from Dayton, Ohio, it has taken the band 14 years for the band to get New Zealand on its tour schedule. Playing two sets tonight, the first set is the debut album, The Silence In Black And White. Vocalist and guitarist JT Woodruff is undoubtedly charismatic on stage and with only a minor disclaimer about how little they've slept, they started playing the album. Immediately the difference in sound quality between opening band and headliner is apparent, and it is shocking how much clarity Hawthorne Heights have when they play. Every instrument is audible both independently and as a part of the greater music. The technical musicianship is amazing to watch, especially when you note that most of the musicians on stage aren't part of the original line-up that created the album in the first place. They have learned the songs and made them their own, with a sound quality that surpasses the production value of the studio album. Woodruff's clean vocals have a very Goodnight Nurse vibe, that works well with the overall tone of the music. After finishing the album, they went off-script and performed Beneath The Silver Strand, a more recent track, with a heavy catchy riff, that is so reminiscent of the intro to Villainy's Ammunition.

After Hawthorne Heights exit the stage, Mark Rose takes their place, just a single man with a guitar and a microphone. Originally from American rock band Spitalfield, Mark Rose has toured extensively in the past with Hawthorne Heights and relished the opportunity to be able to come to Australia and New Zealand. Choosing a cover song as his opener, Mark Rose explained how the song had been the inspiration to pick up the guitar, and then went on to play one of the most haunting renditions of Metallica's Enter Sandman. With a mix of Spitalfield tracks and his own solo material (as well as a "crowd" requested cover of Danzig's 1988 hit, Mother), Mark Rose managed to maintain the crowds interest with a soothing voice and charm.

Finally, the headliners were back again to play through their sophomore album in its entirety. If Only You Were Lonely has a much heavier tone compared to the first album, with some tracks almost having a Bullet For My Valentine vibe to it, musically. Guitarist Mark McMillon initially looked a bit out of his depth when it came to providing the unclean vocals to complement Woodruff's clean vocals, but by the second album, he had started to warm up and had a much better sound to his screams. Woodruff was very chatty; constantly thanking the audience, asking for advice on where to visit while in the country, and sharing stories. Very much a people person. The band, who hadn't slept for 30 hours and performing a two album set list, were understandably rather stationary on stage, and it did mean that the crowd were also far less energetic than expected. But the audience was very happy with their hit of nostalgia, and still managed to get active and jump around on several occasions. A long night for both the band and the crowd, but they ended with a bang, performing the first singles from both the sophomore and debut album, Saying Sorry and Ohio Is For Lovers, respectively. As approachable as the band seemed on stage, they even served as their own merch people, chatting and signing after the show as the crowd slowly filtered out. A long awaited night by many, with renewed hope that it won't be another 14 years before they return.

Review written by Alex Moulton

About Fire For Glory

Fire For Glory are a pop punk band based in Auckland. Bringing together elements of 2000’s era pop punk and post hardcore, Fire For Glory deliver a high energy live show that has won them a solid local following throughout New Zealand, and recently the band made their second successful self-funded venture to Australia. As a result of a hard working, DIY touring ethic, the band have been so lucky to earn themselves supporting slots with bands such as Motion City Soundtrack (USA), Hawthorne Heights (USA), Joyce Manor (USA) and Silverstein (Canada)

Fire For Glory have seen commercial success, having both of their EP’s Phantoms, Ghosts and Monsters and The Kid’s Got Guts, and their LP Shipwreck! all reaching #1 on the iTunes New Zealand rock chart. The single Frog Prince from the second EP was also featured on Spotify’s official rock playlist, gaining high the band high amounts of streaming attention.

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