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  • Marlon Williams - Gig Review: Marlon Williams @ The Town Hall, Auckland - 25/05/2018

Marlon Williams - Gig Review: Marlon Williams @ The Town Hall, Auckland - 25/05/2018

26 May 2018 // A review by ShelleySketch
On a wet, dark Friday night, a large crowd descended on the Town Hall in Auckland City. This was the first of two Auckland shows for Marlon Williams, with many of the shows on his tour selling out. After recently releasing his brand-new album Make Way For Love, Marlon Williams seems to be everywhere, and these shows are clearly something to be seen. As the crowd packed in more and more, Julia Deans took the stage to kick the show off.

Julia came on to the stage in a black and red silk dress. The top half a sleek black with the bottom half a layered red. The crowd cheered, and Julia got stuck straight into the crowd by telling them their cheers sounds more like, it’s been a long week. Julia’s voice beautifully rang out throughout the room as she kicked off her set. The Town Hall was clearly going to be a great option for this show. The crowd seemed to remain rather quiet except a few, which allowed Julia’s voice to fully be heard.

After playing a couple of tracks, Julia bought out a special guest, Celia Church. The comedy that flowed through the set was also very entertaining with Julia telling the crowd that the song is not about blaming gods, angels, crystals and your neighbour for the stupid decisions you’ve made. Celia’s & Julia’s vocals harmonised beautifully together, and it seemed to add another level to the songs. But those levels were only going to rise when Julia also bought fellow songstress Anna Coddington on stage to play guitar and provide her own harmonies. At this stage you didn’t really know what was going to happen. Julia joked that by the end of the night she’ll have around 50 people on stage. The harmonies between the trio were incredible and made the songs seem like they were supposed to be sung that way. Julia also mentioned her new album, telling everyone that she has finally released one after a thousand years and it’s available to purchase. Julia played a great set and though the crowd was mainly quiet and motionless throughout the set, it was obvious this more out of respect for the performer, as people were definitely enjoying it.

During intermission the crowd made sure to top up their drinks and freshen up. Upon passing the merchandise table I spotted Julia signing things for fans, still in her lovely dress. More people had begun to arrive, and the room was really packed for Marlon’s performance.

As we sat inside waiting for it to start, suddenly the lights dimmed, and the room felt like a dark blue night sky, it was a very nice sight. The Yarra Benders took the stage and then Marlon Williams joined them. He dove straight in to the track Come To Me. His deep soulful voice echoed through the room. After finishing the track, it was clear to see just how packed the venue really was, with Marlon admitting the same saying that it was “the largest amount of people that want to watch us”. It was clear as the show went on that this was going to be a very vocal-focused show. Marlon jumped between the guitar, the keys and no instruments at all.

When he wasn’t playing an instrument, his hands were usually in his pockets but there was something nice in the simplicity of him standing there that way and belting out those deeper notes of his. Marlon clearly felt the music, as he closed his eyes quite a bit while singing. But this was a show that was meant to be felt and you could see that by the crowds faces. During his performance of track Dark Child, Marlon left the stage as his band The Yarra Benders finished off the track. I thought this was a nice moment as he gave his band some solo time to shine. As he returned to the stage he proceeded to introduce the band to the crowd. The Town Hall really seemed to amplify his voice throughout the set and the ornate ledgings and large organ provided a beautiful backdrop to the show. The lights were quite a dominant part as well, but I found it felt the room seem more like fire or water, especially with some of the patterns they made on the walls.

Marlon finally came to his most recent release Party Boy. Though he stopped it just as it started as a punter at the front had collapsed. This was the end one of the night but with a packed in room, it’s not very surprising. After security helped the man up, Marlon dedicated the song to him and reminded the crowd to drink water. During the song Marlon would shout out "wooo!" a couple of times, this track also bought out his dance moves, and as weird as they seemed they were also very him. It was the feeling of the music he moved too, and he wasn’t worried about how he looked doing it. They seemed to get a bit crazier when performed Vampire Again. He ran a bit back and forth and seemed to have a face-off with the guitarist. The time finally came when he mentioned Aldous Harding. The song is a duet, but he informed the crowd she couldn’t be there because she is recording an album which is “worth the wait” and “bloody brilliant”. “I bloody love that girl”. He invited long-time friend and band member Ben Wooly. It was a touching moment when Marlon thanked everyone including his band, the town hall staff and the sound guy. Not a lot of people acknowledge the hard-working people who make the night run. “Thank you very much”.

As they departed the stage the crowd cheered for an encore. Marlon returned to the stage and took to the keys. Ben Wooly joined him moments later with a saxophone in hand. The night was really mixed with different instruments including a violin and cello which provided a whole other element to the performance and accompanied Marlon's voice very well. The night seemed to end on a high, with a high energy track before Marlon finished it off with just him and his guitar. It was nice to see the crowd appreciate this by keeping very quiet, allowing Marlon to really use his levels. 

Marlon Williams seems as though he is from another time, but he also provides music that just isn’t really done anymore. Hearing the soul and emotion in his voice made it feel like he was talking to you directly. His show is somewhat of an ethereal experience and it seems rare to have a show these days where it’s just the band and the music. He didn’t need any crazy extra elements and made a cold, wet night feel comforting. His voice and quirky attitude were enough. Regardless of whether you know his music or not, Marlon Williams is someone everyone needs to hear.

Review written by Shelley Te Haara

About Marlon Williams

Marlon Williams won his first singing competition at the age of 11 at Lyttelton Main School and was stuck trying to balance the seesaw of his love for the lost souls of bluegrass and hellfire with his deep reverence for sacred choral music.

This set the course for his teenage years as he not only formed The Unfaithful Ways winning the best song award in 2008 , but toured Europe with the Catholic Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament Choir, supporting the Vienna Boys Choir.

The Unfaithful Ways first album, made album of the year, and went to the finals of the critics choice awards, causing perennial cynic Simon Sweetman to state “There have been a few Kiwi alt-country/folk ensembles in recent years; many of them seem to lack authenticity…But The Unfaithful Ways have found a way in; there’s something utterly believable about this music; that it should come from New Zealand and channel a version of Americana.”

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Marlon Williams


Live At Auckland Town Hall
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Make Way For Love
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Marlon Williams
Year: 2016
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Live At La Niche
Year: 2013
Type: Album

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