16 Dec 2018
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  • Gig Review: Steve Gunn & Arthur Ahbez @ Southern Fork Americana Festival, Auckland - 06/10/2018

Gig Review: Steve Gunn & Arthur Ahbez @ Southern Fork Americana Festival, Auckland - 06/10/2018

10 Oct 2018 // A review by Rupa Kelly

The Southern Fork Americana Festival returns again to New Zealand, bringing with it a tantalising and exciting selection of artists from a range of genres held under the umbrella of Americana. Expect folk, plaid and all things good and wholesome to vibe out to steel guitars from a who's who of some of the premier artists kicking it in the scene today. Hosted by the Great South Pacific Tuning Fork, aka. The Tuning Fork the first of the multi-evening's festivals offerings were Arthur Ahbez and Steve Gunn.

Arthur Ahbez preformed first, "playing original tunes and classic folk". Opening with a cover, I was initially a little shocked by the sweet voice I heard coming out of this previously deep-toned man, at moments you could almost at times picture a lady on stage serenading us with beautiful folk and harmonica solos. Ahbez's fantastically interesting vocal range aside, the songs he played were an enjoyable mix of the usual dreary subject matter that country likes to play around with an added bit of his own personal spice. For instance, a break up song urging the listening to moisturise if you're dried up.

Ahbez preformed a few new songs but more notably, brought out a technique he had been learning: Finger plucking on an acoustic guitar. Preforming the classic Railroad Bill, Ahbez excelled and weaved a fantastic show of talent that left me grinning with enjoyment. The only downer on the performance wasn't at the artists hand, instead a few rather disrespectful punters, sat unfortunately close to me talked loudly and drunkly through an acoustic performance despite many attempts from nearby audience members to quiet them down. Overall, Arthur Ahbez expertly and fantastically achieved exactly what he wanted to do, play the audience some originals and classics.

Steve Gunn, the main even came out next. Looking a little broody, which he assured us later in the night was just because he was up there working things he out, opted to open with an instrumental to ease himself into the role of preforming; what an easing it was. Introducing the artist and setting the stage perfectly, the one-man jam session was a steel guitar concerto, a dance through notes and melodies that broke all too perfectly into the first song. Gunn's guitar tone is extremely noteworthy, the slight reverb makes them flow on with a feeling of great depth that captures the listener and holds them.

I had noticed this first on his studio recordings, but when his songs are performed live, this breadth of tone is dished out in even larger doses of concentration. His skill as a musician was displayed when he pulled out an electric guitar, lent to him by Big Hungry of 95 bFM and proceeded to finger pluck out a folk song with as much distortion as an over-compensating acid rocker; his thumb held the rhythm while the rest of his fingers carried the melody. He tied off the gig with another fantastic jam, this time the sonic cascade came from the use of a tubular slide, being used on both the frets conventionally and also to softly pluck at the strings, adding beautifully to the already diverse and unique performance that Gunn had given. In all, Steve Gunn is a behemoth of musicality in the genre and a high recommendation for any fans, either hardcore or casual (like myself).

Rating: ( 5 / 5 )
 

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