13 May 2021
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The Bats - Gig Review: The Bats @ The Cook, Dunedin - 09/06/2018

11 Jun 2018 // A review by Darryl Baser

Jay Clarkson opened her supporting performance to The Bats with Farewell to the Highlands, her contribution to the second Zelle Records compilation of mostly southern NZ musicians’ interpreting Robbie Burns poetry. It was just her and Alan Haig for this gentle beginning to what would become a rollicking night.

The pair were joined by the rest of The Containers for She Disappears with 150 people in the upstairs bar at The Cook at a semi educated guess. As Clarkson's set progressed, the space between punters and performers became narrow as the bar filled to a near capacity 242 punters and people jostled for vantage points. To say Jay Clarkson is on song is both a terrible pun, and a complete tautology, however, she and The Containers are on form, and about to record an EP. 

The Bats began with Afternoon in Bed, then into 9 Days, which Paul Keen told us was recorded 30 years ago in Wellington. Simpleton followed shortly after, before they launched into a brand-new song.

There was a wide age demographic at this gig, from a pair of young women who are in love with each other as much as the music, to the bloke taking pix next to me, who's in his 60's. Boogieman, has them boogieing. The Cook became a sea of smiling faces on bouncing or nodding heads.

Smoking Her Wings had Alan Starrat as a guest on viola, which added to a velvet underground feel to the song. Comparisons aside, it’s just a fucking great song, with more hooks than a long line trawler.

Up-tempo number Rock and Pillars, followed, Bob Scott told us it’s “named after a set of large hills or small mountains at the edge of the Taieri plain”, south of Dunedin. A song which followed shortly afterwards, Over the Rooftops, reminded me of a conversation I had with Bob when he and David Kilgour landed in NYC the day before 9/11. Needless to say, I found it chilling.

When The Bats began the intro to Block of Wood, the older members of the crowd let out appreciative ‘woo hoos’. The song still sounds as fresh as it did around 30 years ago. 

Another new song called Hold on To Your Eyes, which Bob said was "awaiting a better title". Title aside, it’s still a damn good song, and has Malcolm Grant on drums working his butt off with its quick tempo and frequent buzz rolls.

Two Lines had Alan Starrat back with an accordion, which given the on-stage volume made the quiet acoustic instrument a tough assignment, even for a sound engineer as skilled as Tex Houston.

And with that the band left the stage, to a chorus of ‘more, more, more’ and stomping which was unrelenting until it became cheers of appreciation as the band returned. Special guest Alastair Galbraith joined them for the encore, Paul Keen paid tribute to Galbraith, saying “Alastair helped us out 30 years ago.” 

Then final song of the night is Made Up in Blue which has the return of the smiling nodding people, and even some old school pogoing. It was the perfect way to finish a set that seemed to be more than an hour long, but conversely was over way too soon.

Thanks for flying in Bats.


Review written by Darryl Baser

 

About The Bats

Early in the 1980's, Robert Scott was playing with The Clean and sharing a flat in Christchurch with Kaye Woodward. Robert taught Kaye some of his songs and also played once or twice with Paul Kean (ex Toy Love bassist) in Thanks To Llamas.

The Bats have long been Flying Nun’s quiet achievers. They’ve toured America five times, guested with Radiohead and the Buzzcocks, had one of their songs on the soundtrack of a Kiera Knightly movie, charted in France, been on the cover of Billboard magazine and landed an NME Single of the Week (for Made Up In Blue).

The 3 played together a couple of times at parties as The Percy Taiwan Band until they got together with Malcolm Grant (The Bilders) on drums. With this line-up they decided on the name The Bats and played their first gig at the Empire in Dunedin on New Years' Eve 1982.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for The Bats

Releases

Foothills
Year: 2020
Type: Album
The Deep Set
Year: 2017
Type: Album
By Night
Year: 2013
Type: EP
Free All The Monsters
Year: 2011
Type: Album
Don't You Rise
Year: 2009
Type: EP
The Guilty Office
Year: 2008
Type: Album
The Bats At National Grid
Year: 2005
Type: Album
1000's Of Tiny Luminous Spheres
Year: 2000
Type: Album
Couchmaster
Year: 1995
Type: Album
Spill The Beans
Year: 1994
Type: EP
Law Of Things
Year: 1994
Type: Album
Silverbeet
Year: 1993
Type: Album
Fear Of God
Year: 1992
Type: Album
Daddy's Highway
Year: 1987
Type: Album

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