28 May 2020
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Blindspott - Gig Review: Blindspott @ Powerstation, Auckland - 14/03/2020

16 Mar 2020 // A review by Steve Shyu

Way back in 2007, on the exact same stage, was the last time I witnessed Blindspott deliver the goods – And it certainly was a night to remember. Little did I know then, I was still in my formative years dabbling in heavy music, and Blindspott sat atop a high podium of reverence in my mind, as I’m sure many Aucklanders of my age did. Years have passed since, the band have undergone line-up changes, disbandments, two momentous reformations, and one album (yes, technically as Blacklistt, but for simplicity’s sake, let us have it). Like me, many of their fans have grown up, musical tastes may have shifted, and the performers themselves will have changed – Still, I wasted no time in accepting the opportunity to see the idols of my school-days again, revived, reinvigorated and live.

To set the pace of the evening, City of Souls were slated to kick things off. Richie brought forth impressively broad dynamics in vocal styles, backed harmonically by an equally talented Trajan, who also served on guitar. Fevered solo licks and atmospheric-sounding guitar arpeggios were filled in by Steve, with added weight on bass provided by Daniel, who, along with Marcus on lead-plus-rhythm guitar, were serving double-duties both in City of Souls as well as the headlining act. However, the main driving power lay with Corey, the man covering synths, samples and the drumkit. When combined with the weighty basslines, the ethereal background of synths truly added that mesmerising signature flavour.

The six-man group effortlessly presented some of their best singles, including Sleep, Ferryman, their newest hit Shimmer, plus their hard rock rendition of Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart, which frontman Richie dedicated to The Rock radio station for their months of on-air support.

With bold vocals, guitar riffs bursting with attitude, beaten over with hip-hop infused rock drum rhythms, it was easy to see why City of Souls was an easy contender to open for Blindspott.

Before the stagehands for the headline act had even finished setting up, the passionate crowd were chanting for Blindspott between house songs. No doubt, as lights dimmed and the band emerged, fans erupted in delighted screams.

Audio of a purerehua, or bull-roarer, being spun signalled the song Mind Dependency. Memories of late night hangouts in friends’ cars listening this very album washed over, and I grinned as I did back in 2007. As the even posters promised, the songs ran from start-of-album to ending; naturally, the band’s quintessential hit single Nil By Mouth followed. No kidding, glancing around the audience both upstairs and downstairs, everyone were singing (or at least mouthing) the lyrics, with a majority screaming aloud the “I! Don’t! Know! Why!” of choruses.

With apparently more than enough energy to burn, the band powered through album highlights Suffocate and Fall Down, and fans were familiar with just about every lyric and musical dynamic.

A longer ending to the first slow song of the set Blank was played, with emotions brimming as lead vocalist Damian crouched as he crooned the lines “Don’t go, please don’t go...”. I can’t lie, I got misty-eyed. Having done some growing up since first listening to Blindspott, I realised how personal some of the song’s lyrics really are. What I used to take as verses which simply catered to teen-angst I now find rather touching. It’s true when they say songs take on a different meaning when you’re older!

The song Plastic Shadows had to be restarted as a couple of punters at the front rail started to get overly-vigorous. Shelton leapt down from behind his drum riser to investigate and quell the commotion, and after members in the altercation had calmed, lead guitarist Marcus implored for the audience to look after one another. Good move - It might be unthinkable, but let's be civil and have a rock gig without violence!

I couldn’t help but feel a sense of pride on Blindspott’s behalf, seeing them rock as hard as they do, coming back together after a turbulent number of years, and still having the passion to dish out their best. Daniel Insley slammed away on bass guitar just as heavily as long-time guitarist Marcus Powell did, shuffling about and letting their instruments take control. Andrew Kerr of I Am Giant was also aboard, helping out on guitar duties, adding hefty layers to the string section. Drumming legend Shelton Woolwright hammered out both sturdy and hip-hop-infused grooves effortlessly, as he has always done, creating the unmistakable rhythm on almost every Blindspott release. Damian’s vocals were both on fine form, laying out both smooth, clean-singing as well as the harsh scream vocal he was revered for.

No Blindspott performance would be complete without their national favourite, the reggae-informed number-one hit, Phlex. The lyrically-reflective song always made for a hyper-emotive listen, both on record, and live on stage, but this time around, the atmosphere seemed lighter, and the men of Blindspott also appeared more upbeat. Being a reggae-rock tune, frontman Damian himself verbally permitted the sparking up of joints, but I can’t say I recall being surrounded by that much reefer smoke the last few times I saw this song performed!

With one encore down, even after the album's final track Ilah, the crowd continued cheering. With so many singles released under the collective names of Blindspott and Blacklistt, I knew it would be surprising if they didn’t play at least one more. Which they did! The group treated The Powerstation to Yours Truly and Drown, and a hugely surprising cover of Deftones’s 1997 song Be Quiet and Drive. What a terrific treat. This served as a nice gesture to soothe those who felt disappointed with news of aforementioned band’s cancellation.

Stage lights came on, but the smiling band members were still occupied taking selfies and shaking hands with fans at the front rails. Blindspott were beaming with pride, and rightly so. With over two decades to their names and still selling out a major Auckland venue, they certainly have earned it. Just when it seemed everything had wrapped up, Damian cheekily suggested, “Shall we play one more?” and with no objections from his bandmates, who picked up their respective instruments, and launched for a second time into their best-known hit, Nil By Mouth. ‘Cause why the heck not!

I arrived a thirty-something-year-old and left a giddy and grinning teen again; this was the Blindspott I remembered seeing. The band were still fun to watch, the songs made me mentally relive days gone by, and they gave a little more than I expected. Time marched on, yet when the prime work of one of Aotearoa’s most iconic bands was brought out in the limelight, it showed that it’s truly the spirit of heavy metal and rock n’ roll that prevails.

 

About Blindspott

May 29th will see the release of the second full-length album 'End The Silence' from West Auckland’s finest metal advocates, Blindspott.

This record marks numerous departures for the band that has evolved considerably since they burst onto the local music scene in 2002 with their self-titled debut.

Blindspott’s grassroots fan-base was such that that their first album debuted at number one in the New Zealand charts. It was an album that spawned multiple hits including the singles 'Phlex', 'Nil by Mouth', 'Room to Breathe' and 'S.U.I.T'. It was a shot in the arm for the country’s metal scene, and provided the impetus and confidence that has subsequently lead to the genre now thriving. The impact the band had on the otherwise arid scene spotlighted them for bigger things. They went onto major league success throughout South-east Asia, playing to crowds as big as 70,000 in Indonesia.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Blindspott

Releases

End the Silence
Year: 2006
Type: Album
Story So Far
Year: 2004
Type: DVD
Blindspott (Limited Edition)
Year: 2003
Type: Album
Blindspott
Year: 2002
Type: Album

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