20 Dec 2018
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  • The Miltones - Gig Review: The Miltones w/ Reb Fountain @ Pt Chevalier Memorial RSA, Auckland 22/06/2018

The Miltones - Gig Review: The Miltones w/ Reb Fountain @ Pt Chevalier Memorial RSA, Auckland 22/06/2018

28 Jun 2018 // A review by Alex Moulton

The Pt Chevalier Memorial RSA isn’t a venue that I have been in before, and after entering the venue, the merch stand had me convinced I was at the right place, but the lack of a stage or any instruments had me reasonably confused. Luckily, noticing some music playing behind a large curtain I discovered the larger half of the venue. It didn’t take long before the site started to flood with excited fans. While a reasonable size venue, the stage is wide and low, and thus better suited to a seated audience; as soon as musicians started to take up positions on stage the crowd moved right up and started to block the view of the remaining 90% of the crowd.

Without a word, Reb Fountain starts playing a gentle piece on the keyboard. The bass guitar smoothly introduces itself before the remainder of the band join in and they're off. While they almost appear uneasy up on stage, the vocal performance from Reb Fountain showed extreme levels of poise and confidence. 

Instrumentally, the tracks are rather restrained, directing focus towards the vocals; despite this reduced volume you can see the enthusiasm in the drummer's face as he performs his variable fills anyway. The banter is largely gratuitous, and the crowd were incredibly supportive. When Reb mentioned her nervousness at performing to a crowd of Miltones fans, a member of the audience called out “We’re your fans!” and the crowd cheered in agreement. 

Smooth undulating tunes, with varying vocal styles, there are many different sounds that will appeal to a variety of people, and it is visible in the mixed demographic present; with both younger and older generations vying for a position at the front of stage. Switching between keyboard-centric and guitar-centric tracks, the vibes change between a more classical output, and a newer more modern sound. Not afraid to use all aspects of her voice Reb Fountain has an almost raspy-edge that comes across in a similar tone to that of Gin Wigmore if she were to take it in that direction. She did struggle slightly to hit and hold the high notes consistently, but otherwise it was stunning vocal performance, where the limits to vocal range were pushed to the limits.

Headlining act for the night came from The Miltones, an act that I have never had the pleasure of seeing before. Having interviewed their frontwoman Milly Tabak previously for an Emerging Manager Award nomination earlier in the year, I was aware of the band, but not of their style of music. Safe to say, I was caught off-guard; Milly’s voice was higher than I expected, but high energy nonetheless. 

As someone that had never been exposed to their music before, it did take a couple of minutes to acclimate. The opening track was Bye Bye Baby was let down by a glitching speaker to the left of stage that kept cutting out throughout the track until the sound tech managed to adjust the settings accordingly. Moving on to The Wanderer the funky little number is reminiscent of the style of Paula Abdul’s Opposites Attract, before performing some new tracks. 

Milly has a brilliant stage presence; moving and dancing at every opportunity, hair flowing in all directions as the various colours of light shine across the stage, it creates dazzling rainbow visuals. The remainder of the band were technically sound, performing their respective instruments well, but were rather static in their performance. That is of course with the exception of their keyboard musician, Guy Harrison, who was doing his darndest not to be shown up by frontwoman Tabak; throwing his own hair back, and playing his instrument with ferocity and passion, at times switching from keys to trumpet.

I began to wonder whether the crowd had been telling the truth earlier when they called out that they were Reb Fountain fans. I found myself having to move around the room on several occasions, as my listening experience was spoiled time and time again by large groups of the audience deciding to have loud conversations throughout The Miltones set. The entire left half of the crowd and most of the front of stage, continued to talk loudly, until some of the louder songs finally managed to drown them out, though it was a double-edged sword that pushed some of the crowd into the other half of the venue. A really odd display from the crowd who had been so compassionate towards the opening band. 

Going back to the band though, The Miltones have a very soothing, optimistic vibe to their music, not dissimilar to vibe you get at a reggae or dub and roots festival. With a 15-song set, they included a couple of covers songs in the form of Talking Head’s This Must Be The Place, and Neil Young’s Down By The River. Tabak herself has a wide range in her vocal styles, with a clean quality that is comparable to Alanis Morissette’s Ironic, but also pulling off lower gravelly tones in the like of Gypsy Queen. The band do enjoy their breakdowns and it is when they truly look at their best on stage. Such a situation was when they returned for an encore performance of Bleeding Blues in which everyone got their groove on. It’s always great when you can see the performers are visibly enjoying themselves.

With a strong vocal performance, funky keyboard solos, and a large number of other instruments, The Miltones provided a relaxed environment, full of soul and funk, with just a little twang of country. An eclectic mix that is held together by Tabak’s mesmerising stage presence and positivity.


Review written by Alex Moulton
Photos by Chris Morgan Photography

 

About The Miltones

An Auckland-based band gaining attention locally for the mesmerizing voice of Milly Tabak, who serves as the group’s frontwoman, with the supportive chops and solos of lead guitarist, Liam Pratt.

Together the pair have been playing music together since their teenage years, and now form the songwriting core within the band, which has now grown to five.

The band’s music has evolved over the years into a duel disposition of foot-stomping country blues to soft rock ballads that reminds you of Americana folk rock of the 1970’s. Milly’s unrestrained, free-spirited voice alikens her to a young Stevie Nicks prodigy, with an untouchable energy to her strikingly raw vocal performance. With their nostalgia-inducing sound, they’ve gathered audiences in both millennials to baby boomers and everyone in between. “We’re incredibly lucky. We have a healthy mix of people who get into our music… We can play venues and have all the young bucks losing their minds dancing and from nowhere, the oldies fit right in and have a shimmy… It’s badass.”

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for The Miltones

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