17 Jun 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

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Gatekeepers may be a new name to most of you, but this New Plymouth quartet have managed to secure the opening slot in Hamilton for the Devilskin and Kora show, so they have already started to gain some attention and based on this single one can hear why. The band was only formed earlier this year by guitarist/singer Jeremy Donoghue, rhythm guitarist Sean Phillips and bassist Mat Pipe, since when they have been writing and recording tracks before sending them to the UK to be mixed by Adam Wain.
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