13 Dec 2018

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  • Ghost Who Walks - Gig Review: Ghost Who Walks @ Anthology Lounge, Auckland - 30/11/2018

Ghost Who Walks - Gig Review: Ghost Who Walks @ Anthology Lounge, Auckland - 30/11/2018

06 Dec 2018 // A review 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. Beginning their set with Blasphemy the titular track from their debut EP, the audience are straight away working on their dance skills, bopping away to Nic Montgomery’s funky bass riffs as he nods his head like a bobble-head toy in the hands of a toddler.

Moving into Motherfunky Ride, the band are performing on a full tank, overflowing with vitality. Frontman Rob Lardizabal Jatulan Jr dances as if he is trying to charm every single person in the crowd one at a time, with arms wide open and a wide grin. You can’t talk about The Rubics without mentioning Brendon Thomas, originally gaining fame from his stint with Brendon Thomas and the Vibes on TV’s The Voice show, his skills appear to have improved even moreso since his stint on TV. While he does sing on a track, and provides backing vocals, he looks truly comfortable letting his fingers wander the fretboard of his guitar as he slams through solo after solo.

Playing through all their released tracks, they tested out some new tracks on the audience, Kiss Me When You’re Sober proving to be quite the hit. The Rubics have an energy about them; they perform as if they are in an arena performing to thousands, and that feeling, that they are genuinely excited to be on stage and perform, it feeds the energy of the crowd. The intensity of the enthusiasm in their fanbase, it seems like it is just a matter of time before they will be packing out much larger venues.

As they vacated the stage, one thing became immediately obvious; 98% of the crowd were there for The Rubics. They immediately lost interest in the stage after the set, the audience members that stuck around were following the band around, and it was disheartening to see such a sudden drop in attendance for the headlining band, who had travelled up from Wellington to perform. Props to The Rubics, they gave their thanks to the headliner on many occasions during their set, tried to encourage people to stick around for the set, and stuck around themselves for a fair chunk of the headliner set, but it wasn’t enough to keep people around.

The headliner for the evening came in the form of Sam Fowles project, Ghost Who Walks. A Wellington-based Blues/Funk/Reggae/Rock four-piece, they were in town as part of their nation-wide tour promoting the release of their self-titled EP. Starting with an instrumental intro, the tone of the music was darker than that of The Rubics. A few spikes of feedback occurred, but levels were adjusted, and the issue did not arise again.

First full track in their set came from Freedom, showcasing Sam’s voice which has quite a thick grain to it; you can almost feel his vocal chords grinding as he sings. Yet he also displayed a powerful clean voice, which contrasts his other vocal style quite abruptly, and creates an intriguing combination. There’s a very psychedelic funk vibe to the music, but there is a certain darkness to the music too, which gives the vocals a very aggressive feel to them. This aggression is mirrored in drummer, Josh Dominikovich, who despite having minimal physical movement above the elbows, applies so much force when he plays, you can feel the wave from every strike as he somehow manages to not pierce through the drum skins.

Their second track Walking Talking Blues is from their EP, and is a much smoother track, showing the softer, more comfortable side of their sound. Throughout their 10-track set, they played all four tracks from the EP, as well as an adaptation of Gary Clark Jr’s Bright Lights from the 2012 release Blak and Blu. Ghost Who Walks have an almost eclectic sound and style, with a wide range of influences creating a large foray of musical styles. Aggressive songs, smoother bluesy tracks, faster pace (almost frantic) at times, and one track having a drum and bass vibe with the high bpm from Josh’s drumming.

A unique sound, but a good performance. Bassist Henry Smithers has a look and attitude that reminds me of Villainy’s Thom Watts; relaxed and confident, but overall having fun when he plays. Latest addition to the group Hunter Paranihi adds an extra layer of keys and guitar, which helps provide extra depth to the sound, but does still look like he has yet to find his groove. Ending their set on the opening track of the self-titled EP, Vertigo, the fans that remained were cheering and had their phones out for what seemed to be the stand-out track of the set, when looking at the originals.

A fun evening, but unfortunately ended up pulling a lacklustre crowd. Not easy when an out-of-town artist is performing the same night as Frank Turner at The Powerstation, and Racing at Galatos, and even less so when the opening band has a much lighter tone to their music. If the two acts had been a little closer in vibe, the audience may have stuck around longer. It’s safe to say the Auckland crowd certainly could not compete with the sold out shows that Ghost Who Walks had received in Wellington and Foxton earlier in the tour. A pity.

Photos by Chris Morgan Photography


About Ghost Who Walks

“I make music to move the body and touch the soul” – Sam Fowles.

Ghost Who Walks is a project started by Sam Fowles, backed by his band that is homegrown in Wellington. Formed from the vibrant jam scene of Wellington open mic nights. Combining elements of Blues, Funk, Rock and Reggae, sprinkled with psychedelic overtones. Ghost Who Walks has rocked many a venue in the Wellington live scene with funky originals that Sam writes from the perspective of someone who has seen struggles, overcome and risen above them. This is a lyrical style the listener can relate to. “With relatable lyrics of creating your own destiny, a listener can resonate more with that kind of lyrical sensibility. This is music that makes you feel.” - Muzic.net.nz

Straight after their inception they cut their teeth into the Battle of the Bands progressing to the national final before spending the next year honing their sound ready to record with the Dr Lee Prebble at Surgery Studios Wellington. Producing an EP that showcases their raw energy and gives you a glimpse into the power of their live show. “Ultimately an energetic offering, 'Vertigo' soars this Wellington group to new heights and offers an exciting glimpse into the impending Ghost Who Walks EP in 2018 - fun grooves ahead!" - Tiana Speter, thesoundcheck.org.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Ghost Who Walks


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