12 May 2021
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  • Written By Wolves - Gig Review: Written By Wolves @ Dead Witch, Auckland - 09/04/2021

Written By Wolves - Gig Review: Written By Wolves @ Dead Witch, Auckland - 09/04/2021

11 Apr 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

Tonight was going to be a few firsts for me, including that this was going to be my first time at Ding Dong for a sell-out gig, as well as the first time I had seen Written By Wolves in concert. For the latter, I had been told I was a WBW virgin, while a certain photographer commented he must be a WBW slut!

Before the gig itself started, Lauren Borhani (wife of WBW guitarist Bahador) was in the DJ booth, getting the crowd really going long before Coridian came onstage. I took the opportunity to have a catch up with singer Michael Murphy before the show, as I was intrigued why one of our top bands was playing Ding Dong, as they have massively outgrown the venue. In short, the reason they were there that night was they wanted to support the venue, which has been struggling in recent years. The local scene has still not got over the loss of the King’s Arms, and if Ding Dong were to go it would be another nail in the coffin of the rock scene. As Mikey said to me, he has a young son and if he wants to play music when he grows up where can he start to learn if places like Ding Dong are no longer available? We covered a lot of different topics in that conversation, and although I had already only heard incredibly positive things about the man, actually speaking to him had a huge impact on me, and I can see why so many view him as one of the most genuine people in the scene.

Lauren finished her set with Dragon's April Sun In Cuba, and it was time for Coridian to take the stage. When I say stage, I mean each member of the band had about three square feet in which to stand. Written By Wolves have an unusual line-up in that as well as having a drummer, they also have a keyboard/percussionist who takes up at least as much room as a drum kit, which alongside Coridian’s own amps meant there was not exactly a lot of space. Mind you, if anyone thought that was going to stop the boys from giving their all they would be rather mistaken. I have been fortunate enough to see Coridian a few times in the last year, and if there is one word to describe their performance, it has to be “intense”. They may start slow, as they did tonight with Mike Raven picking out some notes for the beginning of Algorithm with plenty of echo, but he was soon joined by his brothers Nick (bass) and Kris (drums) as they really cranked it up, and then of course there is Dity. I am not sure what there is left to say about a man who gives everything each and every time he plays, with great vocals combined with seamless endless energy as he jumped up and down on the spot like a coiled spring, becoming at one with the sound. Lauren had warmed up the crowd, and they were ripe for Coridian to take to the next level, which they did with ease.

Dunes was another highlight, with the band rooted but so into the music, taking everyone with them on the journey of emotional hard driven rock while Dity continued his effort to expend his energy, but failing. Seed II is one of their more emotional numbers, and there were plenty of arms in the audience waving in time. The guitar bites, while the bass and drums are locked with the vocals over the top. Wicked Game was brought into the set a little earlier than normal, and the crowd reacted when it was announced as the next single: Chris Isaak never thought it could sound like this. Everyone joined in the chorus and while it is quite different to the rest of the material somehow it really works with an arrangement which is punctuated by some powerful drums. Throughout the set I was continually impressed on how Coridian somehow manage to weave space into their music so there are times when it feels quite airy, and then they shut it down and compress it into something quite different indeed. Reflections contained masses of power and emotion, and then they were into Seed and it was all over. At that point I was already more than happy – I have only previously seen Coridian as a headline, and tonight they may have been physically constrained, but they were not going to let that prevent them from delivering a show deserving of that status.

Lauren got back up into the booth, which for those of you who have not been into Ding Dong since it was remodelled is situated in the right-hand wall, with an opening onto the crowd below. More of that later. There wasn’t too long to wait though, and soon, Written By Wolves were making their way to the stage. The line-up is singer Michael Murphy, guitarists Davie Wong and Bahador Borhani, with Karl Woodhams on drums and Oli Lyons on keyboards, percussion, vocals. They use some backing tracks to fill in bits and pieces of sound, but this is all about the five guys putting their all into the show. They were playing the rock stage at Homegrown last month, and here they were back in everyone’s favourite dive, but while they may have not had the same amount of space they are normally used to, this was all about a night for friends and family, all in the cause of Ding Dong. They kicked things off properly with Any Second, and immediately everyone was in the groove, both onstage and off. The guitars were creating a buzzsaw sound, the drums were pounding through, and then there is Mikey. Not only does he have a great voice, but he has to be one of the best frontmen I have come across, really working the crowd, and driving up the intensity. Just the second number in and it already felt that tonight was something very special indeed, with an audience and band feeding off each other and taking everything to a totally different level.

Let It Burn was just the third number of the set, but as all the crowd knew the vocals Mikey just let them get on with it. Every band member’s face kept moving from concentration to massive smiles and back again, as they knew this was some experience. For Tell Me What You’re Running From?, Mikey got the whole crowd to jump in time and I swear the whole floor moved – it must have been quite an experience for anyone in the bar downstairs. During the set there were times when they allowed the pace to drop a little, but only so they could come back heavier and more powerful, fully understanding the need for dynamics. Mikey was doing whatever he could to keep pushing the crowd, while Bahador kept throwing shapes, and everyone putting their all into the night. They kicked into Follow Me less than halfway through the set and somehow the crowd got even more insane! By now I was frantically taking notes but knowing there was no way I could capture this night on paper, you really had to be there. They were stopping on a dime, adding that little bit of space to reset, and then crunching again and going off at pace. The audience sang along with To Tell You The Truth, and just when I was thinking they must have finally topped the energy levels they punched into Master of Puppets and it really took off. During this song Oli at times hung off the lighting rig at the side of the stage or stood on top of his drum pads while he added additional vocals, daring the crowd to go even harder.

They had to slow it down at this point to allow everyone to catch their breath, and Bahador even came off stage to get some drinks from the bar, but soon it was time for Oh No, with everyone singing and somehow lifting the levels even more. After this Mikey told the crowd how everyone here was special, and how important it was to support venues like Ding Dong, then telling us the band had bought everyone a shot to celebrate at which point trays of drinks were brought out. Mikey also made the point that this was for those who wanted it, and that no-one should feel pressured to have a drink if they did not want one, and for everyone to remain sensible. It may seem like a small thing, but firstly the generosity and feeling part of the WBW family made me feel lucky to be there, but that statement about being sensible also really hit home.

We all sang Happy Birthday to Bahador, and then it was onto the last song of the set, Elastic Heart. At one point Mikey ran from the stage into the DJ booth and then perched on the edge singing to the crowd below, really pushing hard. Needless to say, the only way down was for him to jump and be caught by the crowd who relayed him back to the stage, and the show was over, or was it? I had been talking to Lauren earlier that night, and she told me the gentleman sat behind me was her 63-year-old dad, who is such a fan of My Chemical Romance’s The Black Parade that he has it tattooed on his forearm, and to watch for his reaction to the encore, which he did not know the band had learned. So, when WBW launched into Welcome to the Black Parade, I was not facing the stage but looking the other way, and to see his face go from one of wonderment, to recognition and then to sheer delight was simply wonderful. As he shouted to anyone who would listen, “They nailed it, they absolutely nailed it!”

The band finally ended the set, at which point Mikey announced the band had now put $1000 behind the bar, to support Ding Dong and for everyone who wanted to stay and have a party with them. He sat on the stage, drenched with sweat, having given his all, but along with others more than happy to chat and give people hugs. I later walked out into the cold air of Wyndham Street in something of a daze, knowing that this was way more than just a gig, it was a real event. When the set finished, the woman next to me looked at me and said, “Welcome to the wolfpack”. I just can’t wait to be part of that pack again.


Photos courtesy of Morgan Creative
Coridian Gallery
Written By Wolves Gallery

 

About Written By Wolves

Written By Wolves are a fresh and progressive cinematic rock band and one of the most exciting new rock acts to come from New Zealand in recent years.

Having spent the last three years perfecting their sound, live show and building their international fan base, the 5-piece are set for big things with the release of their debut full length album, Secrets.

Renowned for their highly energetic live show, the band have already shared the stage with international heavyweights such as Machine Gun Kelly, Limp Bizkit, Pendulum, Sublime With Rome, Suicidal Tendencies, Hed PE, Falling In Reverse, Escape The Fate, We The Kings, Four Year Strong, Stevie Stone, Kehlani and finished back-to-back tours with two of New Zealand’s biggest Rock bands - Devilskin and Blindspott.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Written By Wolves

Releases

Secrets
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Prologue
Year: 2018
Type: EP

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