25 Oct 2021

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  • Tony Daunt & The Dauntless - Gig Review: Tony Daunt & The Dauntless @ The Wallace Arts Centre, Auckland - 20/06/2021

Tony Daunt & The Dauntless - Gig Review: Tony Daunt & The Dauntless @ The Wallace Arts Centre, Auckland - 20/06/2021

22 Jun 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

Whoever thought of holding an evening concert at The Wallace Arts Centre is a genius, as not only is it just 20 minutes from my flat, and a wonderful venue, but the start time was 6:00 with an aim to be finished by 8:30! I mean, that is almost civilized! I was looking forward to this gig for quite a while because although I had written two press releases for Tony Daunt in the past, and one for Matt Joe Gow, I had never met either of them in person. Having wandered around the gallery I then settled down in the front row for what promised to be a wonderful evening of Americana.

First up tonight was Louis Jarlov and The Lonesome, a trio comprising Louis on vocals and guitar, Tony Daunt on bass and backing vocals, and Sean Rundle on drums and backing vocals. There was little in the way of stage lighting, just one green and one red light positioned on the floor, so they were mostly playing in white light, but the sound was incredibly good indeed. In fact, during the evening I had a good look around the audience and it appeared that I may have been one of the youngest there, so I did wonder what some people thought when the volume was turned up. They started with Burning Down, which was surprisingly upbeat and, in your face, and they were into the groove right from the off. Given his age, Louis is still learning his craft but given that he was stood next to someone who lives to perform and was relishing not being the frontman for a change, it was easy for him to relax and have fun, which is what he did. Slower numbers such as Don’t Go Out were more in the country bracket, and his strong low baritone felt incredibly authentic and not as if he were from Aotearoa at all. He allowed himself some quick solos when the time was right, while Tony nailed down the bottom end and Matt continually changed his approach on the kit which provided interesting changes in the dynamics. As well as originals he played a few covers in his set, and Old Habits (Hank Williams Jr.) was particularly effective, really suiting his style. I smiled through Tush, as it is a very different version to the one we all know and love, here played far more in a country style than blues. By the time the guys had finished the set they had impressed a lot of people, me among them, and I look forward to catching them again.

I first came across Matt Joe Gow earlier this year, since when I have been playing his albums quite a lot. Like many others, Matt was initially trapped overseas (in Bali, could have been worse), but came back to New Zealand as soon as he could. However, although he is a proud son of Dunedin, these days he spends most of his time in Melbourne with his band and he is a multi-award winner in the Victorian country music scene. But here he was, so why not tour the country with just an acoustic guitar and some harmonicas before he could get back? This was the last night of a series of shows, which even the foul weather in Canterbury a few weeks back was unable to curtail, so we switched from an electric trio to something quite different indeed. Originally, Matt used to play his songs as if the band were with him, but over the years he had instead taken the approach of turning them into something quite different, so they provide an alternative view into his music.

He started with Come To Mama, and I was quickly taken with his mix of American and folk. He has beautifully deep and wide vocals with real depth, and this combined with a simple picked acoustic was powerful and all encompassing. He was oozing confidence, and I am sure no-one in the audience realised he had suffered food poisoning the day before and was quite unwell. Interestingly, he performed some songs this evening which were originally written as duets, so he took both sides of the tale. He also explained what each song was about, while adding different harmonicas when the time was right. Light My Way was one of the highlights, originally performed and recorded with the full band and even featured a saxophone, but tonight it was just Matt with guitar and harmonica. This came across as full-on Americana, but with an immensely powerful acoustic sound which was resonating almost like a 12-string. Another favourite was Steady Life, written about living in his apartment in St Kilda where the passing trains shook the windows, which was far more up-tempo and riffing. Matt has a wonderful presence onstage, and his voice really lures the listener in, and I am sure I was not the only won woken from the spell he cast when it was time to finish.  

So, we had enjoyed a pleasant countrified Americana from Louis, acoustic from Matt, but now we had Tony Daunt & The Dauntless. Tony is of course frontman with Swampland, a rockabilly/psychobilly band described as “dark, tense, ‘80s punk-infused, bluesy, gritty, low-fi, rootsy, ego-centric.” But when he pulled together a collection of songs which didn’t quite fit, he instead formed an additional group to record The Gypsy, a wonderful album which was released on AAA Records in 2017. Apart from drummer Owen Drew (Swampland), the rest of the musicians here tonight had all played on that release so while Tony provided electric guitar and vocals, he was joined by Balazs "Sebi" Sebestebny (double bass), Kevin Place (Lap Steel, Pedal Steel) and Louis Jarlov (acoustic guitar). Who says the scene is incestuous?

The scene had been set, and the band kicked off with Lonesome Highway, and straight away we were into territory which was far darker and oppressive than what had gone before. His Johnny Cash-style vocals combined with the double bass, and it was often only the steel which cut through the mix. It was filthy, raw, genuine and an awful lot of fun. Throughout the evening there was a rough rawness to his performance, real gravel and grit, and the band kept the volume up higher than one might expect in this setting and with this rather genteel audience. He was also having an awful lot of fun, and although he was sombre during the song, he was cracking jokes, smiling, and laughing in-between.

Without A Trace was heavy on the steel and vocals, with the guys showing they could be an incredibly solid unit when they needed to be but also fully understood the need for restraint. Sebi was adding gravitas to the bottom end, solid and full of punch, which gave Kevin the perfect foil while Louis added additional backdrop so Tony could knock out the leads and Owen provided different dynamics with rimshots and delicate cymbals. They played, Momma, which can only be described as country reggae, while Shivers had a different approach with a held-down chord on the steel and gentle acoustic for the first verse before the rest of the band came in. This was a powerful builder, incredibly powerful. What with the rockabilly which was Misery and the stomping closer that was Wildfire, it had been one heck of an evening, with three quite different bands, all with a common musical thread.

Matt is flying to Australia this week, but he will be back later in the year promoting his next album, while Tony and Louis can often be found playing together, and there is no excuse for missing out on some great Americana music full of grit and honesty.

Photo Credit: Kev Rowland



The Gypsy
Year: 2017
Type: Album

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