22 Sep 2020
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Shihad - Gig Review: Shihad @ Auckland Town Hall, Auckland - 26/10/2018

27 Oct 2018 // A review by Paul Goddard

It’s 1999 and I am in the UK, never heard of a band called Shihad. MTV or some other show plays this video with a band all dressed in white looking completely insane and there is this speed driven riff going off. The vibe is a mix of punk and thrash with an energy that just blew me away.

5 years later I moved to NZ and got my first taste of a Shihad live performance. The grin on my face when they launched into My Minds Sedate at Brewers Bar in Mount Maunganui would have lit up an airfield. It felt like I had discovered the best live band in the world.

Fast forward 15 years and here we are tonight at a sold-out Auckland Town Hall about to watch Shihad blast through tracks from The General Electric and hopefully a fair dose of tracks from their latest album FVEY. In my opinion the best two albums in a 30-year musical outpouring that just keeps on giving.

It’s an early start but this iconic venue is already packed and like all Shihad gigs it feels like a celebration.

Openers Villainy bounce onto the stage and what follows is 30 mins of chart bothering pop rock complete with Villainy branded inflatable balls and palm trees. The props keep the crowd entertained and whilst I can’t fault what Villainy do and admit that they do it well, even in the moments where they show the potential to push the boundaries a bit more, it ultimately all feels a bit safe and predictable. It just fails to connect with me tonight and sails over my head with the inflatables. The crowd loved it though singing along throughout.

I haven’t seen Kora in a long time but even without Laughton they don’t disappoint. The set is a staunch, passionate lesson in great musicianship and connection both with each other and the crowd.

The genre blending mix of funk, soul and rock is all channelled through the vocal of Francis Kora which is reminiscent of Living Colours, Corey Glover.

The band of brothers are clearly enjoying themselves and we are treated to a rhythm driven set that never lets up. Multi instrumentalists, they make it all seem so effortless. They don’t need to try hard, just let the music and the vibe flow and the crowd follows. Francis tells a story about how Shihad gave Kora their first big break and then it is all over too soon and they thrash out the set closer leaving the crowd wanting more.

Tonight of course is all about Shihad, with the support bands and crowd all here to pay homage to a band who have been at the top of the NZ rock pile for 30 years. Last album FVEY is testament to that, with the genius of Jaz Coleman at the production helm Shihad have released an album that leaves the door wide open for them to go in any direction.

The place erupts as Jon Toogood claims the stage as his own and launches into Think You're So Free, quickly followed by FVEY. The stage itself is minimalist with no screens, video or fancy effects. It's clear the band are here to let the music do the talking.

Jon is laser focused on the crowd and it is clear nothing is going to get in the way of making this gig something special. Not even his sound tech who is pushed away a few times as Jon’s in ear monitors constantly fall out.

I have lost count of the amount of times I have seen Shihad and not once have they ever given less than 100%. Their attitude to every show, every performance is why they are still here after 30 years., The energy that comes from Jon as he prowls the stage has never diminished. Backed by the solid thumping rhythms of Karl and Tom with riff after genius, pummelling, riff coming from Phil this band are likely responsible for more ACC neck injury claims than any other.

The mosh at the front is throwing up some serious heat as the band keep up the intensity with Sleepeater and we are taken on a journey from FVEY face-melters right through to Factory from 1993's Churn album. Comfort Me and Run bring the usual crowd sing along moments which are enhanced by the acoustics of the town hall.

It is songs from The General Electric that many are here for tonight and the band leave the stage as Jon launches into a passionate Brightest Star. That grin that lit up an airfield 15 years ago spreads right across my face as he is joined by the rest of the band and My Minds Sedate is played with the same ferocity as when I first heard it. Shihad just never get old.

The set is perfectly balanced and as we head back in history things intensify even more with Debs Night Out and You Again being particular highlights. Sure, most of us have heard these songs many times before but tonight is special, you can feel it. You can see it in Jon's eyes as he is making eye contact with people in the crowd. At one point he dives in and nearly gets swallowed up by a crowd that has already had a serious workout. He then he stops a song to fist pump people in the front row. The battle with the in-ear monitors is finally won when Jon takes off his T-shirt.

After a short break one of the best riff's ever created introduces Cheap As from FVEY. It's endless swirling brutality with the refrain "it's all kicking off" is the perfect set closer and based on tonight's performance even after 30 years things are just kicking off for Shihad. Long may they continue.


Photos by Chris Morgan Photography

 

About Shihad

Picture this… 1988, Bob Hawke is Prime Minister, Australia dumps $600 million bucks of tax payer cash on Expo 88, Home and Away hits our tellies for the first time, Triple J launch the Hottest 100, Nintendo release the Game Boy, free University education is no longer an option, and over in Wellington NZ, the Southernmost capital city in the world, Jon Toogood and Tom Larkin are busily creating a heavy rock band…. A monstrous band that would end up becoming one of New Zealand’s most loved, respected and successful exports… Kia ora Shihad!

Fast forward to 2020… Jon, Tom, lead guitarist Phil Knight (who they found through a music shop notice board ad in 1989) and bass player Karl Kippenberger, who joined the band in 1993, (from being a fan) have released nine studio albums (five of which went to #1 in NZ). They survived a name change propelled by Jihad becoming a staple negative reference in the global vernacular thanks to 9/11 (Shihad became Pacifier, and returned to Shihad), personal triumphs and tragedies, travelled all over the world with endless tours, selling out headline shows and sharing stages at major local and international festivals, and touring with musical heroes like Motorhead, Metallica, Faith No More and AC/DC to name a few! In 2010 they were inducted into the New Zealand Music’s Hall Of Fame. And just like Neil Finn, Russell Crowe and every other successful person or idea to come out of NZ… Australia quickly adopted them as our own, showering them with ARIA nominations, adoration and ownership of their global success.


Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Shihad

Releases

FVEY
Year: 2014
Type: Album
Ignite
Year: 2010
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Beautiful Machine
Year: 2008
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Love Is The New Hate
Year: 2005
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Alive
Year: 2005
Type: EP
The General Electric
Year: 1999
Type: Album
Blue Light Disco
Year: 1998
Type: EP
B-Sides
Year: 1996
Type: Album
Shihad
Year: 1996
Type: Album
Killjoy
Year: 1995
Type: Album
Churn
Year: 1993
Type: Album
Devolve
Year: 1991
Type: EP

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