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  • Fat Freddy's Drop - Gig Review: Fat Freddy's Drop @ Spark Arena, Auckland - 7/11/2020

Fat Freddy's Drop - Gig Review: Fat Freddy's Drop @ Spark Arena, Auckland - 7/11/2020

10 Nov 2020 // A review by Gaby Ivanov-Giraldo

On November 7th, Fat Freddy’s Drop at Spark Arena was an ultimate highlight to the year of 2020, playing with opening act Avantdale Bowling Club.

Avantdale Bowling Club kicks off with a symphony of percussion, keys, horns, and a big double bass. The band rocked the open of a great night. Tom Scott (Home Brew, Average Rap Band, @ Peace) rolled on at 8pm sharp with wicked and raw rhymes. He’s an eclectic performer. Scott jumps on stage, bringing the crowd in close and setting us all in motion. The first song is Pocket Lint; talking about the price of living, the struggle of day to day life, and gives a word on the housing crisis in Auckland City. The horns are sharp and jazzy yet menacing; giving life to the alarming theme. F(r)iends comes in at number two; this song blew the crowd away live. It’s a deep and dark track about a lost friend to addiction. Scott symbolises his loss at the end of the performance with thematic and heavy imagery. He’s vulnerable to the memory, but energetic as hell to tell the story. And, like all good rap, he’s quick to capture the hearts of listeners. Another gem smooths its way on, after a quick word on the cannabis referendum this year; a humble ode to growing one’s own herb in times like these. This track has insane percussion moments, with a rumble of great drum fills. Fourth was Old Dogs; a song with beautiful keys and brush shuffles; it’s about having that perfect day where the world goes your way. Last up was Years Gone By. The saxophone was a rawr in this one. The band is tight, and circulates well around Scott’s powerful bars. He’s resonant, progressive and musically diverse. We need musicians to bring out mental release, and this performance did so superbly.

Fat Freddy’s Drop is avidly anticipated, the fire we’ve all been waiting for. They're celebrating over two decades of music since the late 90’s, boasting shows with 10,000 heads, and are widely regarded as one of the world’s most outstanding live performances. We’re all mega proud to be here to be able to witness their sublime craft. The crowd is drawn into awe with a sudden sea of light, flooding the stage backdrop with a blanket of stars. A man with a tall white hat and white suit appears; the legendary Hopepa (aka Joe Lindsay). He’s a man of many talents, notably the trombone and harmonica. He stands at the foreground, superfly with energy. They open with Russia; rhythm is felt in a swarm of sound, all familiarising the groove. We’re straight in it with classic Fat Freddy’s improvisation; it’s the first song in the set and the crowd’s already jumping. Dallas Tamaira (better known as Joe Dukie) has got to be the best reggae vocalist known to NZ. His heroic voice of soul extends the scenery, seemingly effortless. Kamo Kamo comes on, a theme of fuchsia lights the stage, symbolic of their latest album Special Edition, Part 1. The iconic horns play in unison, with rhythmic keys and a smooth, bellowing bass.

Slings And Arrows slips in next, a conscious reggae tune about love’s war. People got up off their seats for this one; being an introspective number, this track clearly hits home. Special Edition is next up. This track’s free and easy, yet definitely gets the party skanking with its euphoric energy and tempting bassline. On the subject of ravishing basslines, Blackbird had everyone in a real cheer. Next we hear Raleigh Twenty with its arcade-like open; it’s loud and epic, giving thanks to life’s simple pleasures like riding your favourite bike.

Tamaira gets out his acoustic guitar named 'Aroha'. Bones then comes on; an iconic song about boil-up and all good things taking time. After that, Avengers hits us with a sassy intro and shuffle. Fat Freddy’s have very powerful transitions in their live acts, where the soulful vocals build and grow with the rising rhythms. At this point in the night, Hopepa re-joins us with a glittery cape. He sets the tempo with clapping, as the crowd gets on his level. The improvisation here is mighty, and at 10.30pm heads are still mind-boggled and cheering. Cortina Motors and Razor sweeten the crowd; the camaraderie of Toby Laing (trumpet), Scott Towers (saxophone) and Joe Lindsay (trombone) is a true musical revelation. Funk is heavily set in and electrified on the guitar by Tehimana Kerr. The mood ignited throughout by Iain Gordon on keys. And, of course, not to mention the hype of the night Mark Williams aka MC Slave. The band ends the night singing Happy Birthday to, and performing Roady with special guest Ladi6.

After a show like this, there’s an obviously deep truth behind their global honour. These medleys of songs keep us on our toes as they’re not what you’d hear in their studio recorded albums. This is very much the secret in seeing them live. You really don’t know what version of a song you’re going to hear. Whether it’s a mesh of melodies and oddities, an extended version, or a new introduction to their sound, Fat Freddy’s Drop keeps the crowd present and in-experience. There’s not a moment of the show you wish you were somewhere else, and there's definitely no match of music out there to date. They are progressively electronic, with a mastery of funk, jazz, rock, dub, R&B, techno and of course reggae and soul. DJ, MPC and producer Chris Faiumu (aka DJ Mu) titillated a marvellous show, fusing this multitude of inspiration together.

Be sure to catch Fat Freddy’s Drop performing at Rhythm & Alps on December 30th. They’re a gig you don’t want to miss this summer.


About Fat Freddy's Drop

Fat Freddy’s Drop is internationally regarded as one of the world’s finest live draws. The seven piece band has navigated their way from the incubator of sunshine reggae through a colour-saturated field of soul psychedelia before swerving onto a desolate Detroit superhighway at night. It’s a sound that demands to be heard live, a potent mixture of jazz virtuosity and diaphragm-wrecking digital sonics.

These influences have not only been formed by the band’s individual predilections, but also experiences on the road: Fat Freddy’s appearance at Detroit’s Movement festival in 2006 was a watershed moment for the band, fuelled by hearing May’s, Atkin’s and Craig’s stark futurism ricochet off the cold concrete of America’s broken dream. This stoked producer DJ Mu’s love of analog techno, balancing and fusing vocalist Dallas Tamaira’s adoration of soul and reggae with the band’s collective passion for Jazz, Rhythm & Blues, Rock, Disco, House, Post Punk and Balearic oddities.

For Bays studio album released in 2015, the 9-track LP was exclusively written and recorded at their studio in Kilbirnie, Wellington. Pre-Bays, Freddy's albums were formed almost entirely on the road; the songs slowly evolving live at festivals such as WOMAD UK, SONAR, Bestival, Lowlands, DEMF, Pukkelpop, Glastonbury, The Big Chill and Roskilde.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Fat Freddy's Drop


Year: 2021
Type: Album
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Special Edition Part 1
Year: 2019
Type: EP
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Year: 2013
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Silver and Gold 12"
Year: 2012
Type: Album
Fat Electric Drop
Year: 2012
Type: EP
Live At Roundhouse
Year: 2010
Type: Album
Dr Boondigga And The Big BW
Year: 2009
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
The Camel EP
Year: 2008
Type: EP
Fantastic Voyages Vol. 1
Year: 2006
Type: DVD
Based On A True Story
Year: 2005
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Live At The Matterhorn
Year: 2001
Type: EP
Buy Online @ Mightyape

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