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Gramsci - Gig Review: Gramsci @ ASB Waterfront Theatre, Auckland - 16/10/2020

18 Oct 2020 // A review by kongfooey

The anticipation was high for this show for two reasons. One, it was the first gig out for us since Auckland was locked down for the second time this year. Two, seeing one of my favourite LP releases of 2020 performed in its entirety was going to be one hell of a treat.

We arrived to a dark stage with an ominous soundtrack playing and minimal white lights, conjuring up a moody atmosphere. A lone spotlight shines down on Paul McLaney as he looks wistfully into the distance and the title instrumental track Inheritance envelopes the room. The first of three fine instrumentals on the album, halfway through the song the first of many tasty guitar solos chimes in. Paul sounds like he’s channelling Knopfler, Green and Gilmour simultaneously and it’s the perfect opening track to set the scene.

A thinly veiled screen covers the entire front of the stage and on it are projected abstract animated shapes throughout the show which makes for a superb visual companion to each track. Two more characters join Paul on stage. Jol Mulholland on guitar and Greg Haver on drums. They are perched on 3 risers lined up across the front of the stage with a spotlight on each, with the projected graphics on the screen in front, wisps of dry ice and subtle lighting, the stage setting does look very theatrical indeed.

They launch into song two; Achilles Heel, and the first thing that struck me was just how pristine the sound was in this room. These guys really know their sonic dynamics, I was impressed the drum kit sounded so big and lush, with big rolling bottom-end bass and various synth/effect backing tracks and crisp duel guitars melded in the sound was simply sublime, hats off to the sound engineer Chris Gee.

A rousing round of applause ensues, the lads are warming up now as they crack into the next tune Tantalus. An epic track that included a tasty sax solo by Lewis McCallum, and he takes Tantalus into the stratosphere towards the conclusion of the song. One of my faves up next Like A Scar, with its thought-provoking chorus, "Like a scar, just one more drink, cos I deserve it... to take, to take the f**king edge off". Such a cool song.

Paul is relaxed and in good humour, conversing with the audience in between tracks, he comes across as a humble and laid back guy that’s very grateful to have the opportunity to present this latest Gramsci offering to an appreciative audience. The albums overarching theme of the legacies that we inherit through past family lines and the conditioning that shape our lives makes for great soul searching material. I think this is part of the appeal of Inheritance for me, it’s emotionally connected, honest and real.

Pride and Joy is up next and my wife leans in and says this song is her anthem of 2020. An anthem indeed, powerful and punchy. Paul’s voice is in fine form, his vocals have a Bowie/Bryan Ferry vibe, very impressive indeed especially when performed live. Other stand out songs include a beautiful rendition of Ancient History, the sea shanty tinged instrumental Golden Bough and the closer to the album the epic Atlas. The duel guitar mastery of Paul and Jol works so well live, their playing styles complement each other perfectly and Greg is the glue that holds it all together with his tight and solid drumming.

The Inheritance album is now complete and we are treated to three solo acoustic tracks. Stripped back to just guitar and vocals these early tracks showcase Paul’s talents as a gifted songwriter. Jol and Greg come back to join Paul and finish off the show with three tracks from Gramsci’s debut album Permanence. Give Me Strength, Easy and Complicated fit perfectly into this evenings set, they leave the stage thanking the audience to rapturous applause.

A thoroughly enjoyable evening with three men that are very adept at playing their instruments and creating powerful sonic soundscapes. Paul said they plan to take this show around the country and I highly recommend you catch one of their shows.

It’s the first time Gramsci has performed live in 16 years, and what a brilliant comeback.

We are so fortunate to have this level of talent in Aotearoa. Stunning!


About Gramsci

The name Gramsci is taken from an infamous Italian political philosopher.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Gramsci


The Hinterlands
Year: 2022
Type: Album
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Like Stray Voltage
Year: 2005
Type: Album
Year: 2002
Type: Album
Year: 2001
Type: Album

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