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Thomas Oliver - Gig Review: Thomas Oliver @ The Powerstation, Auckland - 25/05/2018

28 May 2018 // A review by butch181

Last seeing Thomas Oliver at the Tuning Fork, the Powerstation seemed like such a drastic upgrade in venue, when you consider that it has triple the capacity. Yet when I arrived just before the doors opened, less than 20 people were lined up waiting. As 8:30pm swiftly got closer and it was almost time for the opening act to begin, the Powerstation was looking uncharacteristically vacant. Patrons lined the couches along the walls and the step along the edge of the standing floor area, but few people were standing on the floor, and nobody bar the photographers were within metres of the front barrier.

It was really heart-breaking to see such a low turnout for the support act. Regardless, right on schedule, Solomon Crook and his band walked on stage and started to play. Coming up from Wellington, Solomon Crook and his fellow musicians make up a six-piece band comprised of a keyboard, drums, 3 guitars, and a bass. With a musical style that could be best categorised as bluesy soul music, Solomon Crook has a profoundly deep expressive voice. Deep and smooth to the point that his lyrics are at time indistinguishable as anything but comforting low frequencies. The stage bathed in a single colour of light, from red to blue, a white spotlight tracks the focal point about the stage, predominantly with Solomon himself, but switching to his fellow band members during their solos.

The music has a reasonably simple musical composition, often just a two-chord repetition, but it creates a soft ambience and relaxed vibe. I solid performance from the lighting and mixing table that night, with only slight feedback issues which were promptly dealt with, and attention to detail, such as reducing the lighting when Solomon’s lyrics literally say, “turn the lights off please”.

The crowd that is present on the standing area of the venue were dancing from the first song, and it speaks to the musical quality of the artist, especially with such tracks as Smoky Lips, which has some fantastic vocal harmonies. Unfortunately, just like the crowd that was yet to turn up, most of the crowd that were lining the couches showed little interest in the music and talked loudly throughout the set. By the end of the set, the crowd had doubled, and Solomon Crook received well-deserved applause as they exited the stage.

Checking the set times, and the headliner was due on stage, but nothing. The intermission music would stop halfway through a song, but as people pushed towards the front, another song would start. This tease would continue for another ten minutes before Thomas Oliver took to the stage and the stage lights switch on as they jump straight into Shine Like The Sun. The beams of light bounce off Oliver’s well-polished acoustic guitar, as he croons to the crowd with his high falsetto vocals. Supporting Oliver is his band, which appears to be the same as musicians as last time I saw them, Ed Zuccollo and Bella Florence once again gracing the stage.

At this point, the ground floor of the Powerstation is getting packed, and it is quite easy to see why the Tuning Fork was not going to be big enough. Throughout the night, Oliver switches from acoustic to the lead electric guitar (an instrument that he has been known to purposefully avoid in the past) and he plays as naturally and organically as if the guitar was a part of him. From acoustic to electric, to slide guitar, Oliver transitions between them with ease, and his confidence is palpable. His entire demeanour in the last year has changed from that of a quiet, shy talented musician, to a self-assured, organic

Musically, the band are good at what they do. The bass rumbles throughout the venue, and you can feel every note deep within you. My only disappointment was that Bella Florence’s backing vocals were far too quiet and we lost some vocal harmonies that I have very much enjoyed in the past. The setlist was rather short, consisting of only 10 tracks, including the encore performance of Let It Be This One, and an unexpected cover of Al Green’s Take Me To The River. However, time-wise it was the usual length. Padded out with his extended version of Bad Talkin’ Man, it’s the polarising track of the set. Arguably his most popular track, but if you have a dislike of extending songs and crowd participation, then you may have some distaste towards this 20-minute version. A glance through the crowd would tell you that they loved it, however, and as the night drew to a close, there was many a smile to be seen on the faces of the crowd as they filed out.

Review written by Alex Moulton


About Thomas Oliver

Thomas Oliver represents the openness of the mind and the heart, both as a musician and as a human. He touches people's lives in all corners of the globe as he draws a connection between various forms of music that could otherwise be considered polar opposites, and he invites people into an artistic perspective which is entirely unique. His warm demeanour and story-telling on stage are as much a part of his musical identity as his unmistakable falsetto-singing range or his world-renowned touch on the lap-slide guitar, or his celebrated vocal contributions to the genre of Drum & Bass music. Thomas Oliver is the epitome of the term, “one-of-a-kind”.

Produced in Berlin and released on March 6th, 2020, full-length album, The Brightest Light, is a colourful and dynamic journey through Soul, Roots, RnB and Folk, and Oliver's distinctive perspective on the world around him. The first single (released in October), Bulgarian Mountains, has captured the hearts of many, including the millions of Bulgarians who have seen any of the numerous pieces across the biggest television stations in the country, telling Thomas's story and the story behind the song, inspired by a chance meeting with a Bulgarian girl in Amsterdam named Martina.

Simultaneously, Thomas is one of the most celebrated vocalists in the genre of Drum & Bass, having released a massive 20 collaborations with some of the genre's finest producers, including Logistics, Hybrid Minds, Nu:Logic, Black Sun Empire, Urbandawn, Trei, Concord Dawn and Etherwood, and having been released on some of Drum & Bass's most prestigious labels, including Hospital Records, Metalheadz, Blackout and RAM Records.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Thomas Oliver


The Brightest Light
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Live At The Crystal Palace
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Floating In The Darkness
Year: 2017
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Beneath The Weissenborn
Year: 2013
Type: Album

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