15 Jun 2021
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  • Albi & The Wolves - Gig Review: Albi and the Wolves @ Nivara Lounge, Hamilton - 23/08/2019

Albi & The Wolves - Gig Review: Albi and the Wolves @ Nivara Lounge, Hamilton - 23/08/2019

30 Aug 2019 // A review by Trevor Faville
There is a group of New Zealand musicians who are really putting in some time around the touring circuit at the moment. It's cliche to describe them as ‘hard working’ - that's glib and a redundancy - but certainly, the work is getting done and it is showing in terms of their successes.


Road warriors indeed; Chris Dent, Michael Young and Pascal Roggen are demonstrably in this category, performing at Hamilton's ubiquitous, and rapidly becoming iconic, live venue Nivara lounge as a part of a tour for their latest album, This is War.

Tonight’s show (after a short and eerily authentic opening set from Chris and John) is two sets worth of material - the first is more intense, the second is more up-tempo and cover infused. Right from the opening song, this group play to their strengths - a tight musically aware ensemble, with a high level of technical ability, and a solid body of songs with real impact-musically and emotionally.

This is dynamic, well-structured and melodic music. The instrumentation of double bass, violin, and acoustic guitar might at first glance give an obvious indicator of musical style, but in no way is this group tied to the rules of any ‘acoustic’ genre - indeed it speaks to the quality of their own material that the cover work, though witty, only serves to make their own original work sound all the more effective.

As such, the first half stood out as more memorable, and the crowd engaged with it straight away. This is an ensemble that knows what it's doing, and a real musical treat is to watch how Young and Dent back Roggen when he takes a solo-intuitive, sensitive and with real skill. Roggens' technical level is obvious - his use of harmonics, pizzicato, slides are first rate and the real pleasure is in his tone, and melodic sense. One of the better cover moments is his interpretation of the guitar solo of Another Brick In The Wall Part 2 - Gilmour and Roggens would understand each other, for sure.

With the songs - the first half was very strong indeed, with a heartfelt intensity that you might miss from the recordings. Mr Dent to the fore, here-the man easily evokes the best of the Celtic/ Americana/Bluegrass vocal traditions. And the moment when Aaron and Amy from Looking For Alaska join the band for I’d Go Anywhere is one of the highlights of the night. The song just soared..

Throughout, Albi and The Wolves maintained a connection with the audience - not only getting them to sing along (which is easy with material like this), but also to dance. No easy feat for a band with no drummer, and this is where the group as a whole, but Young in particular, excelled. No drummer means the groove needs to be protected, and the sense of groove was so powerful that the floor was full by the third number of the second set. In fact, rare indeed would be the drummer who could have the sensitivity and skill to have added anything more to this.

This is a band comfortable in the live setting, and whose music really has an extra dimension in terms of impact when experienced in real time. Equal parts skilled musicianship, sensitive ensemble understanding, and songs with depth and emotive resonance meant that there was always something to see, listen to, and sing along with.

 

About Albi & The Wolves

This is folk music, but not as you know it. Pulling inspiration from a wide spectrum of genres, from swing to bluegrass, soul, R&B, rock and world music, Albi and The Wolves offer a decadent serving of double bass, banjo, and fiddle accompanied by Albi's smooth vocal stylings. These elements come together to create both a potent foot stomping rhythm and a captivating music and stage presence never experienced before.

With this love and respect of music in all its forms, Albi and The Wolves not only offer vibrant and refreshing original songs which burst open the seams of traditional folk music, but they also inject their signature sound into modern classics from artists as diverse as Micheal Jackson, and Pink Floyd.

Since the band's formation in 2014, they have excelled in New Zealand's live music scene, pulling in large crowds with their unique performance style, making it irresistible to dance.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Albi & The Wolves

Releases

One Eye Open
Year: 2016
Type: Album

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