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  • Apollo SteamTrain - Gig Review: Apollo SteamTrain @ Imbibe Bar, Tauranga - 10/03/2018

Apollo SteamTrain - Gig Review: Apollo SteamTrain @ Imbibe Bar, Tauranga - 10/03/2018

20 Mar 2018 // A review by JohnnyBSquid
After kicking off their tour at the Nivara Lounge in Hamilton the much anticipated second night on Apollo SteamTrain’s Brain Bell Jangler Tour is in their home town at Imbibe bar, Mount Maunganui. The tour’s name was taken in support of their newest single and what a toe tapping, feel good song it is.

Tonight, we are treated to two very capable local acoustic duo support acts. First up are Moone whose original repertoire encompass everything from Soul to Jazz and even a Reggae song. Singer/guitarist Marama Rice has a laid-back soulful style and wonderful voice to match. Accompanied by virtuoso guitarist Phill Reha Moone made for a greatly appreciated opening act.

Second on the bill was John Michaelz, a pillar of the Tauranga music scene with his band Hard To Handle for many years and very capable as a solo act. Michaelz embodied professionalism with a solid performance of both original and cover songs complemented with witty banter and that often-missing personal touch. John’s partner in music and in life added lovely touches to many of the songs with the addition of her classically trained flute playing which added a nice point of difference.

Apollo SteamTrain took the stage to much applause and it is well deserved. The band, now a four-piece, sound well-rehearsed and formidable as a pop/rock quartet Changes in the band’s line up see original Drummer Les Robinson take up duties as Lead Guitarist and wow what a guitarist he is! The dual guitar attack is definitely the right approach for the band, filling out the sound and giving a better dynamic approach live. Singer/Guitarist Brendan McCarthy now has more scope for a better vocal delivery, which has obviously benefited from time in the studio. The range of McCarthy’s singing is clearly noticeable during the set with the higher register being pushed further, some lovely vibrato during the mid-range and able to rock out a little more when needed. Backing vocal harmonies by Robinson and Bassist Ian Clarke have also seen a marked improvement and work well in the context of the songs giving a slightly more pop orientated lushness.

Clarke is another gifted musician with proven playing credentials both here and with his other band, The Eternal Sea, using both pick and finger picking styles he is a very useful weapon in the Apollo arsenal.

James Bos is the new man on the Drum stool and what a find for the band he is! Bos keeps a steady, hard hitting beat going with cleverly woven fills added when needed but not too flashy, he is the sort of solid foundation a band such as Apollo SteamTrain need on which to build their well-crafted pop songs.

As McCarthy has previously stated their sound lies somewhere between Oasis and Crowded House, which is not a bad place to be if you want your tunes to hit the air waves. The band have worked tirelessly to get to this point, honing their skills whilst recording Brain Bell Jangler with Greg Haver at RoundHead Studios. Despite a few technical hitches on the night the boys battled on and did an outstanding job, the crowd went home happy and that’s really all you can ask for.

Review written by Johnny B

About Apollo SteamTrain

Apollo SteamTrain is a musical platform to host the continuing projects of singer/songwriter Brendan McCarthy from Tauranga, New Zealand.

Brendan has a deal in place with Songbroker which has seen his tracks synced on several high profile TV shows including Shortland Street and Filthy Rich.

Brendan has worked with several procucers including internationally renowned Greg Haver (Manic Street Preachers, OpShop, Catatonia, The Feelers, Six60), recording 2 tracks at Neil Finn's Round Head Studios.

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