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  • Levi Lights On Project - Gig Review: Levi with The Free Wind @ Wine Cellar, Auckland

Levi Lights On Project - Gig Review: Levi with The Free Wind @ Wine Cellar, Auckland

18 Sep 2018 // A review by Sass_Metal

I have seen both Brendon and Levi perform with their Rock bands before – Brendon Thomas & the Vibes and Tribal State and knew how talented and how sonically stunning their voices are but I wasn’t prepared for how these two truly talented musicians would sound with the emphasis being more on their voices, than being backed by full bands. Normally I find myself getting bored with too much clean singing and often prefer death metal growls to clean singing. On Thursday I found myself pleasantly surprised by how enthralled I found myself and how often I had to remind myself I was there to write a review and had to consciously draw myself back into the present rather than that ethereal place my mind wanders too when it’s absorbing music I can relate too.

The mood was set with a musical prayer bell chiming and incense being lit, and I had the impression a musical ritual was about to occur before me. I love when promoters or artists go an extra step to draw the punters in and to create more of an atmosphere. First up was The Free Wind – made up of Brendon and Roberto. Right away in their first song I was drawn out of that room and if I closed my eyes I could almost imagine Beatles vocal harmonies. Being used to a lot of Death Metal growls I felt myself relaxing and breathing deep feeling like the music was soothing my soul. The Free Wind inject a lot of humour and personal stories into their set which helped include the audience more – way more than I’ve experienced in the longest time which made me appreciate the intimate setting a lot more, especially after attending festivals and a lot of 3000+ cap shows in the UK and Europe this year. I could easily fill multiple pages about how I felt and how amazing The Free Wind were but I’m going to try and convey this as succinctly as possible. Visually its two guys sitting on stage on two tall stools with one or two acoustic guitars, sonically they were so much more than this!

Their music is both powerful and soulful with intimate hints of humour dotted throughout filled with haunting vocal melodies, spine tingling highs and goose bump inducing lows. There’s so much raw emotion portrayed in this music – and the humour and light-hearted songs are dotted sporadically though enough to draw the listener out of any melancholy the slower songs may induce. The intimate crowd that was there were eating out of their hands and were clapping along and singing along enthusiastically. This is a show with way more layered dynamics than I expected. Regardless of what genre of music you like do yourself a favour and take a friend or your mum along to a show by The Free Wind and if you can’t get along then at least check out their song Smoky, Smoky Flavours as that was my favourite song of theirs.

Next up was my old friend Levi. I’ve known Levi almost 10 years now and I can’t believe that this was the first time I was seeing him perform without his rock band Tribal State. I knew that he also sings a lot of melodic material and he has toured and played all over the world playing it, but now I’ve finally seen it! This time Levi was joined on stage with two musicians who also play in Tribal State – Jason Slade (Guitar and backing vocals/harmonies) and Egor Shnayderman (Percussion) as well as Andrew Miller on Saxophone and Tim Shacklock on the Cello. With Tribal State Levi pushes the boundaries with what a ‘rock band’ should sound like and the performance on Thursday was no different (other than being unplugged and not rock) and I can see Levi’s influence all over it – this is his other outlet for the sadder, more melancholy songs that don’t suit the dynamics of Tribal State. I hadn’t had a chance to check out any of their material or online presence before this show so when I saw a trumpet and cello on stage I was very excited! I wasn’t told until after the performance that this was only the 5th time this group had played together, and they have never had any rehearsal! This is to keep their music fresh and which also means no two performances are the same – especially as Levi likes throwing new songs into the mix which he did on Thursday.

It very quickly became obvious that each individual musician is very talented in their own right and that each musician also has his own cultural and musical influences. The music took on a range of different tastes and flavours blending the power of Levi’s voice which is its very own instrument layering perfectly with the almost Latin style percussion and sexy smooth Jazz from the Saxophone. By the third song I didn’t want to be seated, I wanted to be standing and dancing as the music swept aside my emotions and the room around me and when I remembered I should be taking notes again and I came back into my body with a bump I realized I had a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. Other than the upbeat covers of Metallica and Gun’s and Roses I felt like all of their original songs had a sad melancholy feel to them mixed with both longing and regret. Both these acts are truly talented, and I would go out of my way to see both acts again!

Review written by Sarah Sampson


About Levi Lights On Project

Michael Levin Sesega (Levi) is the musical architect and songwriter for the Lights On Project which has been playing shows in and around Auckland for the past 2 years. Levi’s powerful and emotional tones, blended with an uncommon mix of instruments provide the listener with very vivid imagery.

Accompanying Levi in his full 5-piece line up are Jason Slade on guitar/bass, Tim Shacklock on cello, Andrew Miller on saxophone and Igor Shnayderman on cajon/percussion. These 5 individually talented musicians come together to deliver songs which touch the soul and unpick the very nature of human existence.

This ensemble is truly genre-spanning in both construct and delivery and their sound encompasses folk, blues, jazz, rock and even a smattering of pop. Levi’s lyrics encourage self-awareness, self-development and humanitarian compassion. This is not just music. It's transformation through sound.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Levi Lights On Project


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