11 Apr 2021

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  • Gig Review: Capital Theatre, Cherry Blind & White Noise Mafia @ The Tuning Fork, Auckland - 20/03/2021

Gig Review: Capital Theatre, Cherry Blind & White Noise Mafia @ The Tuning Fork, Auckland - 20/03/2021

22 Mar 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

On Saturday night it was back to The Tuning Fork, at an ungodly hour as this was an All Ages show. It was only from looking at White Noise Mafia’s Facebook page in the afternoon that I realised they were going to be onstage at 7:15pm, so if I had not seen that I would have missed their complete set! When I arrived, I was told that everything was running 15 minutes behind, and that also there had been some changes so although this had billed as Capital Theatre’s gig, they were now going on in the middle slot, with Cherry Blind ending the night instead. There were also two drum kits set up, both Capital Theatre’s and Cherry Blind’s, which seemed somewhat strange for a small stage. There were quite a few people here from other bands waiting to see the show, and the audience were certainly up for a good time.

White Noise Mafia had previously set themselves the target of playing The Tuning Fork within eighteen months of forming, and here they were just six months after their very first shows, smashing that goal to pieces. They are an incredibly young band, packed full of the confidence of playing well together, having good songs, strong musicianship, and a great front man in Chris Webb. They walked out onto the stage, got set, and when Chris turned around to get things going, he realised there was already a mass of people at the front, and this is just what he revels in.

They kicked off with Divide and Chris was already racking up the crowd, and it seemed that just within seconds there was a mighty mosh pit going on. Let’s just place this into context for a minute: this was the first band of a three-band bill, they have no material available as they have yet to complete any recordings, have only played a handful of gigs, and in reality, virtually no-one there knew who they were, but they were driving the audience crazy from the off. The guys are playing in a more and more relaxed style as they build their self-belief, and Matt H’s face will crack in half if he smiles any wider. They drove the groove during War, with Lewis from Alien Weaponry leaving the mosh pit with the immortal words “I’m too old for this shit!”.

Each and every song had the crowd getting more worked up, while the band were having an absolute blast watching the maelstrom in front of them. Tonight, they only had 25 minutes to prove their worth, so they ended with a version of Shihad’s Think You’re So Free, where they again got all the crowd to sit on the ground and then all jump up together and go crazy. At The Tuning Fork we saw a band really come of age, with Neo providing powerhouse drums, Matt S some complex bass lines, Matt H and Chris great guitar, while Chris was determined to get the crowd to give their all, which they did. If they keep improving at this rate, then it will not be long before the aim of playing The Tuning Fork will become the aim of headlining it.

Capital Theatre are a band new to me, and when they set up on stage, I was somewhat intrigued as they are a trio of drums, guitar/vocals, and vocals/guitar/piano. During the set they use a backing track to fill in the sound, but Roy told me later that they are looking for a bassist but it is hard to find the right person. There are not many bands who can say they travelled to America to record their debut album with Guns N’ Roses producer Mike Clink, but it has been hard yards for the guys as they had to return home during the sessions due to COVID, and it has yet to see the light of day, with just the single Force To Fight currently available. On top of that it is a concept, and tonight they were going to play the complete album in sequence, a brave effort when few would know the material at hand.

This is a totally different style of music to the openers, not nearly as brash and metallic, and far more melodic with real depth and passion: more like progressive hard rock than something to remove the dandruff. Much of the material has a twin vocal approach, with Adam also switching between guitar and piano, and I was also very impressed with the complex patterns coming from Paul at the back. The result is well thought out commercial rock that has real depth and structure, and while the audience seemed to respond mostly to the heavier numbers such as People, I found myself enjoying the whole set immensely. They move between delicacy and bombast, but with such a flow and style that the listener is not even aware of where the music is going until the journey is over. At the beginning of the set, I was listening for the backing track, but by the end I had forgotten it was even there as it was not intrusive, just filling in that tiny bit of sound. I am definitely looking forward to catching these guys again, while the album should be killer.

Cherry Blind have been creating quite a buzz on the live scene; I first saw them support City of Souls at the same venue a few months ago, since when they have undertaken a nationwide tour supporting Villainy, and they are consequently full of energy and confidence. As soon as they hit the stage with Papercut the crowd were with them, creating another mosh pit as all three guys put every fibre of their being into the performance – it was no surprise at all that there were some broken strings later in the show as they were just ripping it up so much. They have a commercial grunge sound, with the vocals to the fore, and everyone was on that wavelength, joining in to the words on House of Flies.

Songs such as Burn have a different approach to others, yet always with the same high energy. Bassist/vocalist Logan was pushing the crowd all the time, never letting those levels drop, ensuring that they were always doing what he wanted, even when it came down to catching stage divers. Matt H was one of these, who wanted to make it all the way to the back of the crowd, something which he managed to do quite well! This set was all about full-blooded entertainment, with guitarist Sabastian Munro throwing shapes for all his might, and whatever the band laid bare on the stage it was returned to them from the floor which in turn had them pushing even more. I was dubious about the wisdom of allowing Mark Tohovaka to have a drum solo, but while I may not have appreciated it, it was wildly applauded by everyone else. Eventually they ran out of songs, so jumped into Smells Like Teen Spirit which saw Matt joining in by singing on the chorus. They finished with a medley of two more covers, Blitzkrieg Bop which then merged into American Idiot and finally it was all over.

Tonight, there were three very different bands on show at The Tuning Fork, and I look forward to catching each one of them again in the near future.


Other Reviews By Kev Rowland

Elidi - Single Review: Witches Brew
06 Apr 2021 // by Kev Rowland
Christchurch quintet Elidi are back with their latest single, released just in time for their South Island gigs with Pull Down the Sun in April, before they head out on a NZ-wide tour with Stonehurst in a few months’ time. They describe themselves as progressive, but before you start thinking these guys are Genesis or Pink Floyd clones, understand they are talking progressive in its truest sense, which is blending together different styles and types of music into something which refuses to sit sedately within any particular sub-genre and instead goes wherever it leads, being taken on a journey in the same way as the listener.
Album Review: The New Blue - Pixie Williams Reimagined
06 Apr 2021 // by Kev Rowland
Before starting on the music on this tribute album, we first need to understand who Pixie Williams was and the impact she had on NZ music. Pixie was the first wahine Maori vocalist to reach number one on the New Zealand singles chart, with the song Blue Smoke in 1949.
Gig Review: Sol3 Mio @ Spark Arena, Auckland - 30/03/2021
02 Apr 2021 // by Kev Rowland
Tonight was always going to be interesting, as this was the first time myself and my eldest daughter had been to a concert together for more than 16 years. The last time was for Bowling For Soup, and one of her achievements that night was reducing the average age of the audience, something she did again this evening.
Bridge Burner - Album Review: Disempath
30 Mar 2021 // by Kev Rowland
Following on from 2018’s Null Apostle, Auckland’s Bridge Burner are back with their second album, Disempath. Featuring guitarist Josh Hughes (Vassafor, Graves), vocalist Ben Read (ex-Ulcerate, In Dread Response), bassist Gary Brown, drummer Louis Malloy (ex-Anabyss) and guitarist Maxwell Gravelle (ex-Hexis, Setentis), here we have a group who are determined to push their music and their listeners to the very limits.
Blindfolded and Led to the Woods - Album Review: Nightmare Withdrawals
25 Mar 2021 // by Kev Rowland
I first came across Christchurch-based band Blindfolded and Led to the Woods some four years back when they released their second album, Modern Adoxography. It had a huge impact on me, and I described it as having a musical foundation built upon brutal death metal, elements of demented grindcore and bizarre sci-fi tones weaving their way into the complex structures, resulting in an engaging and damaging listening experience.
The Wake Up - Single Review: House of Cards
23 Mar 2021 // by Kev Rowland
Back in October I reviewed Palmerston North outfit The Wake Up's latest single, Worthy, which introduced new bassist Nathan Charles, and now here they are back with the seventh single of their career, and this time around they have a new guitarist in Trent Fairhurst. It sounds as if he has made an immediate impact as this is much heavier than their last one, and drummer Caleb Hickmott says, “it is the demon love child of Devilskin, Billie Eilish and Motley Crue”.
Gig Review: In The Shallows @ Earth Beat Festival, Kaipara - 18/03/2021
20 Mar 2021 // by Kev Rowland
I have been trying to catch up with In The Shallows for ages, but even though they have been touring nationally, I have somehow managed to always be in another part of the country so kept missing them. We were going to meet up at Spirit Festival a few weeks back, but thanks to COVID that was postponed, and then I heard they would be playing at another Auckland festival, so I contacted Danni and we agreed Earth Beat was going to be the one.
Soul Circle - Single Review: Y.O.U.
19 Mar 2021 // by Kev Rowland
Soul Circle describe themselves as a group of musicians dedicated to making music that touches the soul, and at least in this instance include Rhonda Hofmans (vocals), Chris Fish (guitars, keyboards, noises) and MPhatic (bass). The cover credits this release as featuring Moofish and Mphatic, so I really not much the wiser as to who Soul Circle actually are.
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