20 Nov 2018
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Gig Review: Harry Lyon @ Galatos, Auckland

14 Oct 2018 // A review by Alex Moulton

A typical New Zealand spring week was coming to an end, and the weather was all over the place; tepid air, disrupted by short, icy bursts of rain. But the cold shards of precipitation weren’t enough to keep people away, and as soon as doors opened, smartly dressed music fans began to flood in. There was much chatter and smiles among the crowd as the venue greeted them with an almost lounge setup, with tables, chairs and candlelight filling much of the room. It wasn’t long before the seats were taken up by the early birds, and the rest of the patrons began to pack in at the bar.

The opening act for the night came in the form of The Bads duo, Brett Adams and Dianne Swann. Sporting a very simple setup that consisted of two guitars and two microphones, they started their set with Helensville, from their 2008 album So Alive. Their style encapsulates many different genres, incorporating sludge rock and country, which would deviate closer to folk if the rest of the band were playing. But with only the duo on stage, their set had a much more relaxed and tranquil vibe.

Brett was still brandishing the technical competency and proficiency that has had him working with Tim Finn and Gin Wigmore, with a very clean acoustic lead. Dianne holds more of the country vibe with her acoustic rhythm guitar providing the “twang”. With the visual look of The White Stripes, The Bads capture your imagination with brilliant control of their instruments tweaking harmonics and feedback to create exquisite ambient soundscapes. Without any form of drums or percussion, the set was unhurried and floated along, as they performed tracks from Travel Light and their latest release Losing Heroes. Completing their short seven song set, they made way for the headlining act.

9:00pm came along and Harry Lyon stepped up on stage with his band. And what an extensive band that appeared to be. With Harry on the guitar and vocals, he was surrounded by a myriad of musicians; Tony Waine on bass guitar, Stephen Small on the keys, Josh Sorenson on the drum kit, and Jimmy Taylor on lead guitar, three backing singers, and even a trombone player coming out later for a song.

Whether the presence of a drummer, of the animated performance from Jimmy Taylor, From the first notes played, there was an instant injection of energy, and within moments, you can see heads in the audience start nodding along to the rhythm. The vitality of the musicians on stage was extraordinary, and surpassed performance I’ve seen by many bands that are 50 years junior to Harry and his cohorts. It speaks immeasurably to the experience and passion of these artists, and their banter mirrored their performance eliciting laughs from the audience between tracks while they tweaked their tuning and swapped instruments.

Being a tour promoting Harry Lyon’s first solo album, To The Sea, it is expected that the setlist would focus on those tracks, and he started off the night with One For The Road. Harry consistently keeps up the banter as they play through Baby Don’t Stop and Dance Me To Hell And Back (a track that has an intro distinctly to the style of The Strokes). Whether it be dedications to his wife who was home looking after the grandkids, talking about having kids living overseas, or getting the crowd to singalong during I’m Surrounded, Harry and the band ensure the audience remain engaged from start to finish.

Their sound had that distinctive classic rock sound infused with a heavy dose of funk and blues. After suggesting the crowd make use of the space up front on several occasions, during Dance Me To Hell And Back, they finally obliged, and for the next few songs there were several couples dancing to their hearts content. As the set progressed, the energy started to lull, as everyone began to save their energy for the final tracks.

Harry Lyon being the only remaining member of Hello Sailor, the first band to have an album certified gold in New Zealand, the crowd were clearly excited by the prospect of a mix of Hello Sailor tracks being inserted into the setlist, such as 1977 hit, Latin Lover. Ending the main set with the titular track from his album To The Sea, the crowd waited in anticipation, and the wait certainly paid off. Three songs made it into the encore performance, but most notable, and crowd favourites came from Gutter Black (synonymous with the Outrageous Fortune television series) and of course Blue Lady.

 

Other Reviews By Alex Moulton

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