15 Dec 2018

Remember Me? | Join | Recover
Click here to sign in via social networking
  • Articles »
  • Reviews »
  • The Phoenix Foundation - Gig Review: The Phoenix Foundation w/ The NZSO, Auckland Town Hall, Auckland 03/08/2018

The Phoenix Foundation - Gig Review: The Phoenix Foundation w/ The NZSO, Auckland Town Hall, Auckland 03/08/2018

04 Aug 2018 // A review by Alex Moulton

Wandering into the Auckland Town Hall, there was a definite sense of anticipation in the air. Though the halls weren’t overly crowded with patrons, everybody appeared to be buzzing and chatting away excitedly. Soon enough, the bell was rung to alert everyone that the show would soon be starting, and the seats slowly started to fill one by one. The audience was a demographic mix, although it was certainly skewed more towards the older age group, and there was an assortment of attire, with a few top-end suits and dresses present, but largely the crowd was dressed in casual wear and large coats to stave off the cold weather outside.

One by one, members of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) took their seats on stage and prepared their instruments. The chatter was immense as the audience waited for the show to begin, creating a buzz that could drown out any show. But once the orchestra was fully seated, and the lights dimmed, an impressive hush fell upon the audience (with the exception of one likely inebriated heckler in the back of the upper balcony).

Wellington’s The Phoenix Foundation entered from the left side of stage alongside the NZSO’s Associate Conductor Hamish McKeich and received a rapturous applause. Not feeling the need to slowly work their way in, the set started with the orchestra taking full control of the instrumental track, Hitchcock. While I have seen many attempts to create a hybrid of modern music with the orchestra in recent years, most of the time the orchestra serve no real purpose, often getting drowned out by the electric instruments. This was not the case tonight. The Phoenix Foundation were almost corralled into the front and centre of the stage, trapped by a semicircle of coloured lights, with a platoon of violin and violas to their right, an assembly of cellos and double bass on their left, the cluster of woodwinds directly behind them, followed by the brass section and the percussion duo flying overhead.

The NZSO looked dominant and intimidating, and they certainly didn’t hold back, making use of their numbers to creating a show of strength against the band that were armed with an assortment of microphones, amps, and electric instruments. Because that is what the people came to see. We weren’t there to just see a show by The Phoenix Foundation. That has been on show for the last 20 years. The audience were there for the NZSO.

Rather than a fight between the two factions, or a clear overpowering of one over the other, there was evidence of proper collaborations between them. Taking turns at times, and then working in unison, the evening showed every combination of band and orchestra possible. It was interesting to see a band held to such a strict standard of timing, with no room for banter or extended bridges throughout the first four tracks; Controlled by McKeich’s conducting everything flowed well, with the NZSO only resting during Cars Of Eden, allowing the band to grab the limelight and have freedom for the remainder of the track.

Dressed in a baby blue striped suit and a straw boater hat, main vocalist Samuel Flynn Scott took every opportunity to banter with the audience, chatting about how he had always wanted to dress up as Elton John on stage, before Morning Pages started with a captivating harp performance by Carolyn Mills. The strings sections worked together really well, but the true stand-out instrument sections came from the brass and percussion, which added depth and majesty to their sections. Whether it was running between the xylophone, marimba and the gong, or using their hands as instruments when the brass were not needed, they stole the show at many points.

The setlist covered songs from the debut album, such as St Kevin, Let Me Die A Woman, and Wildlife, as well as showcasing two brand new tracks Transit of Venus, and Miserable Meal. There were times when the NZSO would build their ranks so dramatically that you could not hold back a smile as the music filled you. They closed of their set with Give Up Your Dreams before making a hasty exit from the stage. Not happy to end it like that the crowd were quick to start chanting and stamping for an encore performance, and in less than a minute, the band re-emerged in time to have a member of the crowd demand a song request, to which they responded with “yeah I’ll just arrange it and make 60 copies for the orchestra”. They ended with Eventually and Buffalo, which received an instant applause from the crowd which recognised them straight away.

Arguably, the vocal microphones could have been reduced in volume slightly as they were overbearing at times, and there could have been a little more work for the brass section, but without a doubt, this is the best balance in a modern/orchestral hybrid event that I have been present. 

Review written by Alex Moulton
Photos by Chris Morgan Photography


About The Phoenix Foundation

"Surely the most potent band to come out of New Zealand since the far-off days of the Chills… Gorgeous" ***** 5 Stars - The Independent Newspaper, UK (27/11/09)

"This record is like the beautiful feeling of falling asleep in a hammock out the back of a faded old beach house and dreaming of epic vistas and love affairs… a beautiful record indeed." - Neil Finn – Crowded House/Split Enz

"It swerves gently from kooky guitar sing-alongs to languid psychedelia, it pauses for effect on elegant sad-eyed piano ballads and cinematic synthesizer swirls, it locks itself in its bedroom for a sulk but then it's skipping happily around the backyard just as the sun comes out. Sometimes that's all in the course of one track …" 5 stars

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for The Phoenix Foundation


Give Up Your Dreams
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Tom's Lunch
Year: 2014
Type: EP
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Year: 2013
Type: Album
Year: 2010
Type: Album
Merry Kriskmass
Year: 2009
Type: Album
Happy Ending
Year: 2007
Type: Album
Year: 2005
Type: Album
Year: 2003
Type: LP
China Cove
Year: 2001
Type: EP

Other Reviews By Alex Moulton

Mako Road - EP Review: Local Safari
10 Dec 2018 // by Alex Moulton
Local Safari is the latest release from Christchurch Indie group Mako Road The four-piece provide a very laid-back and relaxed (albeit short) EP as we enter the prime summer road tripping season.The EP begins with its titular track Local Safari, with some pleasant keys and a generally unhurried pace, controlled by a simple hi hat and snare drum combo.
Kerretta - Single Review: Chroma Queens
10 Dec 2018 // by Alex Moulton
Chroma Queens is the first single from upcoming LP release Exiscens (due for release on December 14), which is the first release from Auckland experimental rock act Kerretta for over four years. The band are comprised of bass player William Waters; drummer H.
Gig Review: Ghost Who Walks @ Anthology Lounge, Auckland - 30/11/2018
06 Dec 2018 // by Alex Moulton
Cheers and squeals are let out around Auckland’s Anthology Lounge as The Rubics take to the stage. The six-piece group have been working on making a name for themselves as the groove-makers of the Auckland scene, and from the sound of the audience, they know exactly what they are in for.
Gig Review: 2Cellos @The Civic, Auckland - 3/12/2018
04 Dec 2018 // by Alex Moulton
People were abuzz as they filed into The Civic to get to their seats. Many eyes were enjoying the venue itself as one of Auckland’s last remaining atmospheric theatres, with its soft-top design that floats above the auditorium, with stars and clouds that recreate the Southern Hemisphere sky-scape.
Lisa Crawley - Single/Video Review: Baby It's Fine
30 Nov 2018 // by Alex Moulton
Lisa Crawley’s latest single Baby It’s Fine is a delightfully unhurried and soulful pop track. Starting with a slow strum of the guitar and an almost acoustic vibe to the bass, there is a slow melancholic edge to the song.
Night Bus - Single Review: Korean Restaurant
28 Nov 2018 // by Alex Moulton
Self-described as a lo-fi electronic bedroom pop from elusive Wellington figure, night bus is definitely an obscure act. With a Facebook page created less than a fortnight ago, only 5 followers to their name, and a moniker that is otherwise impossible to search for due to common use, any further information about the artist is not forthcoming.
Baitercell - EP Review: Toka
23 Nov 2018 // by Alex Moulton
Toka is the latest release from Baitercell; an EP comprised of three Drum n Bass tracks with 100% Te Reo Maori lyrics. The tracks Te Wai Te Ora (The Water, The Life), Te Pukumeke (The Final Strike) and Hine Ruru (A goddess in the form of a native owl of Aotearoa), are inspired by Papatuanuku, Tangaroa, Ranginui (the respective Maori gods of earth, water and sky) and the connection we need to have with our earth.
Gig Review: ZM's Friday Night Jams @ Western Springs, Auckland - 18/11/2018
19 Nov 2018 // by Alex Moulton
Ten minutes before gates open and the entrance way to Western Springs is packed to the brim with excited fans wearing cardboard Burger King Crowns in the hopes of receiving a free upgrade to the BK Stage. With some scattered cloud, the day was humid, but ultimately much more manageable, providing some respite from the intense sun.
View All Articles By Alex Moulton

NZ Top 10 Singles

    Ariana Grande
    Lady Gaga And Bradley Cooper
    George Ezra
    Ava Max
    Post Malone And Swae Lee
    Travis Scott feat. Drake
    Marshmello And Bastille
    Billie Eilish
View the Full NZ Top 40...
muzic.net.nz Logo
100% New Zealand Music
All content on this website is copyright to muzic.net.nz and other respective rights holders. Redistribution of any material presented here without permission is prohibited.
Report a ProblemReport A Problem