19 Sep 2021

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Investigator - Gig Review: Investigator @ Cupid Bar, Auckland - 17/07/2021

18 Jul 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

This was a gig I thought I would have to miss, as I had been invited to a wedding, but after the ceremony I realised I could still make it, so it was back into Auckland for another venue which is new to me. Cupid Bar is situated in the foyer of the old Ambassador Theatre, and with the bar on the right-hand side, there is quite a narrow entrance which then opens into a small space where bands can set up. It felt very personal, and I was mightily impressed with not only the boutique range of beers on tap, but that they also have a chiller full of local craft ales: I can see me coming back.

Tonight, was the launch party for Investigator’s most recent single, Lake of Eyes, which last month made it into the Official NZ Music Charts, blasting into the Hot 20 NZ Singles. What is interesting is that Adrian had not done anything different in terms of promotion with this release than on any other, yet it has attracted attention globally (and as I write is #4 on the U&I Downloads chart) which has led to other bands asking what did he do?

First up tonight was Dashboard Ashtray, a band who have been created out of Undercut, although in a quite different musical area. Whereas John used to provide vocals and guitar, here he is hidden away on his laptop, while bassist Dave (who is also in Investigator) and guitarist Scott play against the samples and loops he is producing. The result was something which worked incredibly well, with nice solid bass and interesting guitar lines, with the latter having solid reverb and cut through. There were some moments when it did not gel as well as it might have, particularly with the heavy synthetic percussion on D & E, but when they got it right, as on Dubs, then it was quite something. This started with a filthy bass which was reminiscent of New Order, and there was a real sense of togetherness with Scott and Dave bouncing off each other. Their final song, Home Soon included a sample of Neil Finn from Four Seasons In One Day, so it will be interesting to see if this gets recorded, and overall I came away with the feeling that here is an instrumental band who are heavily influenced by the likes of Ozric Tentacles, are very tight, and having a load of fun producing something quite different.

Then it was time for Investigator, but before they started, I changed position as some guys had come into the bar and decided to stand right next to me so I could not see anything. This put me closer to the toilets, and when someone showed his girlfriend where they were, we glanced at each other and immediately did a doubletake, as it was Dom Morris from 71 Sunset. He and I have not seen each other for some six years, but I had been in the studio a few times when they were recording as well as writing the press releases for both their EP and album. The band broke up after singer Darrin Floyd moved to Australia and they had been unable to find a replacement, but all the guys are still active in different bands, and hopefully I will catch up with Dom at one of his own gigs soon.

Investigator started as a one-man outfit in a similar fashion to Chanelled, led by singer/guitarist and songwriter Adrian Drew, but these days it is a full live band with Dave Crowhen on bass/backing vocals, Adam Morton-Mason on guitar and Craig van Kan on drums and backing vocals. Adrian and I were talking beforehand about the difficulty of finding bands to be able to support and gain more fans, but I can certainly see why they have been playing gigs with Chanelled as they have a similar approach of delivering power pop mixed with melodic hard rock, creating something which has its roots in the likes of Cheap Trick yet with a harsher Kiwi attack which has not been smoothed to imperfection. They kicked off with Bad Luck’s Shoebox, the first song of theirs I had heard when it was released as a single. Back then I said that in many ways it reminds me of music being released in 81/82 with incredibly catchy licks, yet with a far more alternative metal sound, and that feeling was reinforced seeing them play it live. It is grounded on an incredibly solid rhythm section, with both Craig and Dave seeing their roles as providing support when it is required, but also at other times doing something which dramatically changes the focus. Adam’s role is often to provide melodic lead lines throughout, as opposed to just emphasising the rhythm guitar, which gives them a distinct sound.

They kept shifting styles, but always grounded in the root of melodic hard rock, and if Don’t Touch Me was recorded with an American-style production I could see it being a huge hit over there, while Livin’ In A Magazine is classic Cars. One thing of note is the strength of the lyrics throughout, as each song has something to say, and there is depth behind the pop hooks. Lake of Eyes was somewhat early in the set, as I would have thought that it would have been near the end, but the band were on a roll and so were the audience. There were times when Adrian used falsetto, but it never felt strained, and was also not over-used so it provided a strong contrast. They finished the first set with Candlelight, a song which was originally written about suicide and took on even more poignance when Chris Cornell died just two weeks after it was finished. Tonight though, it was dedicated to fur babies as Adrian and his wife had just lost theirs. This felt far more emotional, commencing with just Adrian and guitar.

The second set started much more slowly, with even a country vibe on Goodbye Car, while Inspire again had some sections where it was just Adrian, providing wonderful contrast when the rest of the guys came in. One of the highlights was YOUnique, another previous single, which is a wonderfully powerful belter, and we ended the night with The Raiser, which is another power pop song in a similar vein to The Knack. It was great to be able to finally catch Investigator in concert, and I know this is not the last time, as it was simply so much fun.

Photo Credit: Kev Rowland


About Investigator

It's all about the melodies and soaring choruses, with catchy riffs & driving guitar. These are bright shiny songs with dark undertones, a juxtaposition reflecting life. The love, loss and societal stabs feature heavy... but within the dark brooding space there is always a hint of optimism.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Investigator


Year: 2018
Type: EP

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