15 Jun 2021

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  • Barnaby Weir - Gig Review: Laughton Kora and Barnaby Weir @ Auckland Museum, Auckland - 10/05/2021

Barnaby Weir - Gig Review: Laughton Kora and Barnaby Weir @ Auckland Museum, Auckland - 10/05/2021

12 May 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

Up until tonight, I am sure the most unusual venue I attended for a gig was the Canadian Embassy in London, when they put on a media showcase for a Canadian rock act. I remember then looking at the walls and candelabra, trying not to spill my wine on the posh carpet, wondering what I was doing there. But tonight’s gig was being held at Auckland Museum, in the Grand Foyer no less: the neo-classical central entrance hall is made of terrazzo and looking at the sheer splendour of the columns and galleries it is quite stunning (it was possible to look down on the singers from those galleries if you wished to).
Like every Aucklander I have been to the Museum countless times but being here for a music event made it feel even more beautiful, and I had the feeling that it was like being in a cathedral with the high ceiling and decorations. There was no stage tonight, just some microphones and speakers set up in front of the main doors, with the statue of Discobolus just behind, so no-one could forget this was an incredible place to hear some music. Cushions and a few chairs were made available, and it really was seating room only for what was to be a very special sell out event indeed.

Barnaby Weir (Fly My Pretties, The Black Seeds) surely needs no introduction, but Laughton Kora was not going to let that stop him as he spoke of the impact Barnaby had on New Zealand music and thanked him for all he had done. With that Barnaby went to the microphone, just him and a 12-string guitar.
He commented on the reverb, saying there was as much as a four-second delay, and then he kicked into Old Friend and we were off. If anyone had asked me beforehand what the perfect music would be to play at an event like this, I would have said a solo voice and acoustic, but a 12-string made it all so much better. The natural echo from the hard surfaces combined with what was coming from the strings to create a thing of beauty, with his Americana style of singer-songwriter making a huge impression. Barnaby was not using a pick, and his fingers provided a gentler style than is often expected, while his voice was sonorous and rich. There was a huge amount of passion in his voice, and the crowd really reacted to everything he was doing, and he to them as he decided on the set list as he went along. He told us all that he knew what the first song was going to be, and that was it, and through the course of the set he even played three unreleased numbers in The Other You, A Sobering Idea, and Let The Sunshine Through.

Barnaby is a real storyteller, able to command the audience just with his voice and guitar. At times he was quite balladic, but always with an edge, and through the set he moved through multiple different styles while there were also distinct sections within the songs themselves. It really was beautiful, as he took all the listeners with him on a journey. The 12-string was like a rippling brook, bright and light, with his voice adding to the colours and feelings as the music swept along. At times he was reminiscent of Anthony Phillips, at others he had the aggression in his playing of Roy Harper, and I was transported by the sounds I was hearing, the way the music came at me from all angles as it bounced around to create that natural reverb. All too soon he was playing Catch The Light and the set was finished. It felt like a spell had been broken and we were back to reality: simply wonderful.

There was a very short break, and then Barnaby introduced Laughton, saying they had known each other for more than 15 years. Laughton came to fame as part of the Kora family who formed a band of the same name, touring all over the world, but he has done much more than “just” that and tonight he was showing us a different way to be a solo performer. With his electric guitar strapped on, he was pulling samples to provide himself with a full band for him to noodle against, and soon we had  a funky reggae groove going. As soon as he started singing there was a big reaction from the crowd. He was more in your face than Barnaby, incredibly relaxed, and it was obvious he was just going to have a load of fun tonight and the same went for the crowd who were very vocal in their support. He continued to trigger samples through the set, playing it almost as if he were a keyboard player, with every musical pattern being set differently so he was not using a backing track as such, rather he was creating it as we went along, a soundscape to play against.

There were a few times when his guitar got a little lost within the overall effect, and while the band effect was impressive, for some reason it just did not sit well for me in the overall setting as it just did not jell. But that is very much an opinion of one, as the crowd were far more raucous and engaged with Laughton than with Barnaby. He is an incredibly polished performer who knew exactly what the audience wanted from him, and provided that with a soulful and passionate performance which even saw him throwing in some falsetto when the time was right. We also had some covers during the set, and it must be said that his slowed down arrangement of Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down) was simply inspired.

There was just time for Laughton and Barnaby to join forces for a few numbers, and their medley of Sunny and In The Air Tonight, with their voices blending together, was simply magical.  In many ways it was the perfect end to a wonderful evening of music in an amazing setting.

There is another sell-out event at the museum at the end of the month, with Reb FountainLou'ana and Georgia Lines sharing the stage. I surely cannot be the only one who thinks these events should continue throughout the year not just in May, as tonight was very special indeed for all those lucky enough to attend.

Photos thanks to Chris Z from Zed Pics 
For more photos from the night, have a look here, here and here.


About Barnaby Weir

Lead singer of The Black Seeds and band leader of Fly My Pretties), Barnaby Weir also produces electronic music as {Flash Harry and in 2011 released his debut solo album Tarot Card Rock.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Barnaby Weir


Tarot Card Rock
Year: 2011
Type: Album

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