29 Jun 2022
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  • James Hunter and The Gatherers - Gig Review: James Hunter and the Gatherers @ San Fran, Wellington - 7/05/2022

James Hunter and The Gatherers - Gig Review: James Hunter and the Gatherers @ San Fran, Wellington - 7/05/2022

08 May 2022 // A review by Danica Bryant

San Fran is absolutely bustling with people on Saturday night, all buzzing to see the unique line-up. With only two weeks' notice of the event, the turnout is astounding, proving the crowd's devotion. The sonic differences between Edera, James Hunter and the Gatherers and Tin Palace are apparent, but it’s all the more reason it’s guaranteed to be an unforgettable night.

Edera opens with a full band, their first performance together all year after months of isolations  complicating their ability to meet up. Despite some initial teething issues with timing and form, the band’s nervous energy quickly dissipates into fizzing chemistry, largely thanks to their frontwomen’s impressive stage presence. Edera’s emotive, dynamic vocals take centre stage from the first minutes of opening song All I Got. When she lets her voice truly rip, she has an amazingly powerful belt. Promises offers these stunning vocals in spades, whilst All I Wanted (And Now You're Gone) proves a crowd favourite. Each song has something unique to offer, from bright electric guitar to moving bass. These songs are so dynamic, the drums could possibly have more power to back up their range, but the brushed percussion largely works in their favour throughout the performance. But by far the highlight of any Edera performance is the songwriting. Edera’s music is best described from her own lyric, “like wearing black to the beach”, hauntingly expressive behind a sunny disguise. Each line is so compact, yet says everything there is to say about the human experience. Now reunited with her band, Edera proves herself an artist who cuts so deep to the feeling, it’s dizzying.

Up next is James Hunter and his band, aptly titled The Gatherers. The group have a tight interplay and steady chemistry together. They clearly love the music they play, and the experience of their recently concluded tour shines through. The band’s rowdy opening number emphasises hard guitar and howling vocals from their frontman, whose vocals get stronger with every song. James switches between playing acoustic guitar, with an impressively sparkly, clean tone, to singing alone with no instrument to hide behind, where he is imposingly confident and encouraging of crowd interaction. Backing vocals from his bassist blend beautifully in the harmonies of songs like More than a Moment, whilst the band’s cover of TEEKS Waves showcases an array of subtle yet effective percussive and vocal details. Near the end of their set, James teases his upcoming EP with the unreleased track Magenta Hue, a slow, majestic number reminiscent of a school ball’s final slow dance. The band follow this with their demanding single Suburban Dystopia. It's a closing number which cannot deny that James Hunter and the Gatherers were made for the stage. 

Finally, Poneke’s self-proclaimed “power pop-funk band” Tin Palace step up to the plate, all decked out wearing sunglasses indoors. Their sound fuses the laidback energy of Ocean Alley with the electronic experimentation of Daft Punk. Extremely confident and full of swagger, Tin Palace play several originals which emphasise their skilled melodic and rhythmic choices. Unlike many similar bands, the focus is on their instrumental power, rather than how singable their songs are. Even when they “slow it down”, they’re intentionally groovy and relatively upbeat, mixing rapped sections and sung melodies together with full intent to get everybody in the room dancing. Covers sprinkled throughout the set follow through on this, especially their well-constructed rendition of Funkytown, which shows the band’s irresistible charisma and their strength with vocal effects such as vocoder and autotune. It’s hard not to see their keys player as the most valuable player. He toys with different sounds throughout the set, filling each song out with the final necessary layers that make them so jazzy. Without a doubt, Tin Palace are a dancefloor force. They are skilled musicians who know their worth, and provide a fantastic closer for yet another of Wellington’s incredible youth-oriented gigs. 

 

About James Hunter and The Gatherers

James Hunter is an alternative folk musician hailing from Wellington, New Zealand. Having been a writer and a performer all his life, Hunter writes, records, and produces records that are minimal in scope, but intimate through his vocal delivery.

The abrupt appearance of COVID 19 allowed Hunter the chance to release Two EPs, Last Little While and You which were created entirely from a small room in his Wellington flat.

Hunter’s sounds are created in narratives that allow listeners to journey with him through vulnerable places in the human soul: love, fear, faith, joy, pain. He hopes to share his life with others, in the hope of growing with others and being able to connect with others in the process.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for James Hunter and The Gatherers

Releases

You
Year: 2020
Type: EP
Last Little While
Year: 2020
Type: EP

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