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  • Bernie Griffen and The Thin Men - Gig Review: Bernie Griffen and The Thin Men @ The Incubator, Tauranga - 26/05/2018

Bernie Griffen and The Thin Men - Gig Review: Bernie Griffen and The Thin Men @ The Incubator, Tauranga - 26/05/2018

07 Jun 2018 // A review by JohnnyBSquid

Patrons are huddled together, braving the weather in a cold red shed, in the heart of Tauranga’s Historic Village. Winter hits hard, but as so many artists overlook the city of Tauranga when they book shows on their tours, the people are happy to turn up and support them. The venue itself is a unique venue that boasts itself as a vibrant and eclectic art space that supports a diverse range of bands and independent artists. Tonight is no exception, with a double-bill of musicians renowned for their talent and ability.

First up is Ed Gains, a man of a thousand styles; from performing in bizarre raucous bands, to the maniacal solo work that has a serious punk attitude. His calm exterior frequently turns “Jack Nicholson”; twisting into an almost crazy image, but tinged humour. Tonight, Ed is wearing a different hat; not his usual cowboy hat, instead, more of an American forestry manager style of cap.

As he starts to play, he bewilders the audience with sparse arrangements of country-tinged songs, making extraordinary use of the higher registers of his voice. Sarah Murphy, joins Ed mid-set to add some beautiful harmonies with even Chris Kemp, the headlining Thin Men drummer, jumping in for a couple of well-played numbers. Each song is followed by brief bites of comedic banter as he endears himself to the crowd; they clap, cheer and whistle throughout each song, and again much louder at the end of his set.

The excited crowd waited patiently for Bernie Griffen and the Thin Men to take their place on stage. Their style has been described as Southern Gothic and it is a well-formed description. Best compared to a country/folk fusion of the darker elements of Johnny Cash, Leonard Cohen and Nick Cave musical styles. The tour is in support of their third album, Doors Wide Open, and it sees the collaboration of Bernie with life partner, Kirsten Warner, who co-sings and plays rhythm guitar. Bernie’s quiet, seated style of playing and picking, contrasts with the stand-up swaying rhythm of Kirsten’s guitar. Kirsten also adds the highs to Bernie’s lows in both harmonies and adds many layers of feeling and expression within the music.

Chris Kemp again takes residence upon the drum throne and carefully adds minimalist touches to the mood of each song forgoing drumsticks in favour of brushes to add greater feeling and depth. Garry Trotman is on the double bass, and is another very experienced musician, adding tone, vibrato and chording to every song, embellishing each track without taking the spotlight. Never showy but very competent, letting his fingers do the talking. At times, the band were edged into Latin territory, most evident in the piece entitled My Brain Exploded, where a totally new style is adapted flawlessly.

The cold night did little to detract from the event, instead adding depth to the sombre gothic-inspired lyrical content. Another great night of music, turn out the lights.

Review Written by Johnny B

About Bernie Griffen and The Thin Men

This year sees Auckland’s Bernie Griffen step out into new territory with his second album Salvation, recorded at Auckland’s The Lab studio in May 2014 with star-studded band The Thin Men comprised of the formidable Chris O’Connore [The Phoenix Foundation, SJD and more] Mike Hall [Pluto, Nightchoir] Mathias Jordan [Pluto, Nightchoir] Jolyon Mulholland [Gasoline Cowboy, Mulholland] Steve Roach [Bernie Griffen and the Grifters] Louise Evans [The Flaming Pearls] and Bernie’s long-time partner/collaborator Kirsten Warner [The Flaming Pearls].

The new record sings out like a scream in a quiet night -- Bernie’s characters are hard-living and hard-loving, outlaw and savior, the lover and the man in trouble -- Bernie Griffen tells tales of adventure, loss and a life hard lived.
It’s a timely follow-up from 2011’s Everything So Far (Bernie Griffen and the Grifters) -- which featured the song 29 Diamonds, championed by Radio NZ’s Trevor Reekie in 2011: "If there’s any justice in this industry, 29 Diamonds would win a Silver Scroll, it is achingly poignant and it will travel forever."

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Bernie Griffen and The Thin Men


Doors Wide Open
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Year: 2014
Type: Album

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