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  • City of Souls - Gig Review: Sevendust w/ City of Souls @ Powerstation, Auckland - 23/04/2019

City of Souls - Gig Review: Sevendust w/ City of Souls @ Powerstation, Auckland - 23/04/2019

24 Apr 2019 // A review by butch181

A decidedly reserved Tuesday night in Auckland and people were quietly piling into the Powerstation and grabbing some drinks at the bar. The upper balcony area was closed, so the fans were amassing downstairs around the inner perimeter of the venue. As the lights dimmed for the opening act, the crowd that had gathered was still sparse enough to walk through and secure a spot at the barrier without inconveniencing anyone.

Local lads City Of Souls were the only opening act for the night, and while that gave them a good 40-minute set to wow the audiences with, it also meant all the pressure was on them to warm up the crowd for the Grammy-nominated alt-metal band that boast 12 studio albums; Sevendust.

Well, warm up they certainly did. Cracking straight into their latest single, Wolf, the stacks on the sides of the stage pulsed with power, the deep resonating bass line catching a few of the fans standing close-by off-guard. A mish-mash of musicians from a number of renowned New Zealand bands, the City of Souls members varying styles of playing create a veritable orchestral composition that is always melodic, but also consistently impassioned. Sitting on their debut album, they used their latest trip to the Powerstation to showcase some of their newer tracks.

Ferryman has been a live favourite to many, and the power of the song can almost cause the inner ears to pop from the pressure of the soundwaves coming at you if you are unprepared. The six-piece continually improve their craft and their harmonics, whether it be Trajan Schwencke and Richie Simpson harmonising on the vocals, or Schwencke, Marcus Powell, and Steve Boag each providing their own unique complimentary tones on the guitars. Meanwhile, Dan Insley keeps the rhythm going on bass, and Corey Friedlander thrashes away in the corner with an absolute killer hi-hat combo.

While the crowd enjoyed the usual suspects of the City Of Souls set (Water and Sleep), they were truly enamoured with the newest additions, Lifeblood and Brushstrokes. Softer songs; more melodic than heavy, the punters were starting to headbang unison along with some heavy triplets and basking with some impressively long and clean vocal notes from Simpson.

While Simpson switched up the vocals slightly in this performance, replacing some of the more abrasive gritty growls that he is known for, with clean alternatives, it worked well with Schwencke’s backing vocals. While initially stand-offish, the crowd were well and truly warmed up by the end of the set.

The opening set having finished slightly early, the audience had a forty-minute wait while the equipment changeover occurred, but the barrier at the front of the stage didn’t disperse. Fans started making their way forward in anticipation of the headlining act.

As the house lights dimmed and lighting effects set a number of spotlights stirring around the backdrop, Sevendust took to the stage. Morgan Rose with his trademark red braided dreads took his place behind the drum kit, as Lajon Witherspoon came out kitted in double denim and a smile beaming on his face.

“We told you we’d be back” he points out to the crowd before the kicked off their set with Black. Their main set was comprised of 12 tracks, but despite the show being a part of their All I See Is War Tour, promoting their latest album, only three of the songs came from albums outside of their earliest four studio albums; half of their setlist coming from the Animosity and Home albums.

In a decidedly American fashion, Witherspoon would frequently kick his feet out as he faced the drumkit as if he was doing a little country square dance, but when he got back to the front of the stage, he was in his element, singing with a passion and a power that had the crowd climbing over themselves to get close to him. Most of the rabble kept themselves to the front and centre of the crowd, but every once in a while that reverberating grungy bass drop would lead the audience into a manic state. Praise, Waffle, and Enemy were the big culprits that had a large proportion of the crowd leaping into the air arms flailing, trying to fist-bump Vince Hornsby, John Connolly, or Clint Lowery as they navigated the stage.

Hornsby was the most at home on-stage with his wireless set-up and was relishing in the attention from the crowd and was happy to interact with every person that was trying to get his attention. The crowd ebbed and flowed with every riff, and the band were very tight in the technical aspects of their songs, with impeccable timing, and only very minor alterations to the studio version of the tracks that the crowd would know.

Sevendust put on an absolutely dirty, distorted, alt-metal bonanza and the crowd were eating it up. It didn’t have the clearly defined sound that City Of Souls had brought, but they were playing all of their hits, and bringing that nostalgia to the stage with ease. Lajon Witherspoon did take a small respite towards the end of the main set, to talk about a woman he met at the Meet & Greet prior to the show and dedicated the night’s rendition of Angel’s Son to the woman’s late partner.

While the crowd was reasonably subdued as it was a Tuesday night, that had no effect on Sevendust’s performance, and they put in 100% effort, and showed nothing but smiles and gratitude to the fans of New Zealand for allowing them to return again. Ending their main set with Thank You from their 2016 album Kill The Flaw, the audience wasted no time before chanting to get the band back out on stage. Witherspoon made sure to thank the opening band, and even threw about the possibility of coming back to perform with Devilskin, before closing off the night with encore performances of Bitch and Face To Face.

With a firm promise to return, they released their picks and drum sticks into the crowd before taking their leave.

Photos by Chris Morgan Photography.


About City of Souls


It is a word that Auckland six piece City of Souls were bound to deal with from their inception. Boasting members from bands that have etched their mark on the local and international hard rock and metal scene such as Blindspott, Blacklistt, 8 Foot Sativa, New Way Home, Cold By Winter, In Dread Response and Solstate, City of Souls was set to stir some interest, and stir they have.

Too often when something is hyped it is followed with disappointment, yet the first City Of Souls single Sleep arrives unashamedly explosive, touting emotive energy juxtaposed with a certain calm which will become this band’s signature. Recorded between Dreadstorm Media Auckland and Roundhead Studios, it was mixed by legendary engineer Clint Murphy, and mastered at Sterling Sound in New York.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for City of Souls


Year: 2020
Type: Album

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