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  • Daniel Armstrong & The Monsoons - Gig Review: Daniel Armstrong & The Monsoons @ The Tuning Fork, Auckland - 27/05/2022

Daniel Armstrong & The Monsoons - Gig Review: Daniel Armstrong & The Monsoons @ The Tuning Fork, Auckland - 27/05/2022

27 May 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

Only a few weeks back I was saying I had not been to Tuning Fork for well over a year, and now here I was back again, this time to see a three-band line-up which was due to start at 8:00 pm with the last band due on at 9:30 which is a very sensible state of affairs if you ask me!

First up was Ripship who comprise Callum Lincoln (guitar, vocals, loops) and Eva-Rae McLean (drums, vocals). They kicked off with The Great Filter and I was very quickly intrigued by what I was hearing as it is unusual to come across a band that really does not sound like anyone else around, but use electronic robotic vocals, create live loops and then develop soundscapes all combined with real drums - the impact was quite striking. They followed it up with Man After Man and by the time they kicked into the next number there were people dancing at the front of the stage. They are an incredibly rhythmic band, and I must confess that even though I would not have imagined I would like what they were doing, I was having a blast. Their mix of electronic with rock and dance has a trippy element which one can imagine coming from the likes of Hawkwind or classic Gong, and while it is music people can dance to, there are times when it is very heavy indeed. Eva-Rae has her cymbals set really low, which means she is very visible indeed so one can see all the work she is putting in as well as hearing it: this adds another visual element as although Callum is all over the place when he is not singing, there are plenty of times when he is behind the microphone trying to ensure that everything stays together.

Eva-Rae took lead vocals on The Spire, and this gave their music a totally different feel as she has a raw emotion very different to Callum, allowing them to express themselves in a very different manner: this was more frantic and hard-hitting than some of the others, really resonating. There were times during the evening where Callum showed he can really riff when he wants to, and this mix of styles was very powerful indeed. They ended with Insufficient Data, another where Eva-Rae provided a melodic lead vocal while Callum provided treated robotic vocals. Here we had a number which was divided in sections, with one having Eva-Rae shouting the story into the microphone while Callum just riffed gently. From here the song grew, becoming more dynamic and powerful as the tempo increased as they belted out the finale. Simply put, Ripship are an absolute blast and a load of fun. The longer they played the more I really got into what they were doing. We were told that this gig was originally booked when Trump was still in power, and the world has certainly changed since then. Apparently, there will be an album coming out later in the year and if they can capture their live energy on that then it will certainly be something worth hearing. I am already looking forward to seeing them play again soon.

I was talking with the guys from Late To Chelsea before the gig and I was somewhat intrigued as they described their music as being a cross between Ramones and Green Day before bursting into laughter and saying they are the worst band in Tamaki Makaurau. I pointed out there is some competition for that title, but it immediately made me want to see them play. They kicked off, bassist Sam Ashton grabbed the microphone and told everyone they were Late To Chelsea and they were the worst band in the world, so they had obviously improved in the intervening period. Right from the off it was obvious this is a good time party band, and everyone was going to enjoy themselves.

They keep saying they are the worst, but in reality, this is one tight outfit who are self-deprecating, and in Jack Horsnell they have a singer with a rough rasp which is perfectly suited to what they are doing (the line-up is completed by guitarist Dave Hulbert and drummer Jack McKenzie). They were blasting through the set, one energetic number after another and their pop punk metallic approach was finding them many friends and the place was certainly warming up. This is heads down music where everyone stays tight and hopes they all finish at the same time, but underneath the buzzsaw riffs are a rhythm section which keeps everything incredibly tight and adds finesse, while there are also some guitar solos here and there. Their Limp Bizkit tribute, Permanent Stankface Disorder must be heard to be believed as they are changing tempos and styles all over the place, with Dave providing the vocals and Sam throwing in some basslines which belies the “worst band in Auckland” tag. They create a buzz while they are playing, and everyone wants to join in as it is such fun, pure and simple. This is a band to go and see to have a good time, chug some beer, and have a laugh.

Hey, Hey, Hey had people joining in on the chorus, while there was one cover in the set, Pub Feed by Aussie band The Chats, who apparently are a great inspiration for them, and again this was sung by Dave. They ended the set with two songs about insects, because why not? They are not afraid to throw in artrock tendencies when the time is right and spice it up, but the buzzsaws are never too far away, and there was plenty of people in the mosh for the last number, even if the constantly changing time signatures left them somewhat confused. Me? I had a massive smile on my face as this was a great set.

Now it was time for the headline, Daniel Armstrong & The Monsoons who comprise Daniel Armstrong (vocals, guitar), Odessa Nielands (backing vocals, acoustic guitar), Alex Rau (keyboards, backing vocals), James Brook (bass) and David Hampton (drums). With no fanfare, Daniel kicked off with a solo performance of the classic Dream A Little Dream, full of passion and swing, from which the band joined in as they segued into What’s In Your Pocket? The contrast between the solo and the band was significant as there are so many layers within the arrangement, with additional vocals, the rhythm section keeping it tight, keyboards, and both acoustic and electric guitar so there is real depth.

The arrangements are set so that the vocals are always front and centre, and Daniel has incredibly clear diction so that all the words can be easily understood even if it is the first time someone has heard a song. He is a real storyteller, taking the audience along with him on the journey. There are times when his music moves quite firmly into Americana, especially when Odessa is providing harmony vocals as on Soul Requirement. I recently reviewed their latest single, The Company, and here it was a monster with rumbling bass, driving drums, organ high in the mix, and then Daniel over the top. If you have yet to see the video then check it out on YouTube, then imagine the intensity lifted tenfold and you may just get to somewhere close to where this was tonight, immense.

There is a real intensity in their music, alternative indie rock with some country and singer songwriter stylings so one is never sure where they are going to lead, just that the band will be tight and the songs always interesting. There is a lot of variety, and at times Daniel is throwing in some very hard rock solos, and although they are not a hard rock band, they certainly have a very powerful link to the early Seventies American country rock scene. Somebody On Your Mind is full of passion, driving and in your face and in total contrast to the staccato Years Not Forever which followed, which in many ways had similarities to The Beatles. Tell Me Where To Stand starts with just Daniel, impassioned and almost in pain, but as the rest of the guys join in it slowly turns into one of the most driving and belting numbers of their set. It ends with Daniel again on his own, soulful and stripped bare. Somebody's Fool saw the rest of the band take a breather as Daniel picked his guitar, sang in a higher register than he had been so far through the night, slowing it down and concentrating on the emotion. The band came back for Babyem, which continued in a similar vein to the previous number before rising to a crescendo before ebbing away again. They ended the set with the up-tempo Outlaws, their quickest number of the night, showing yet again that they have many different styles at their disposal. Of course, they were not going to be allowed to leave just like that, and they were called back for an encore, which again started with just Daniel before the rest of the band joined in.

This was a great night, with three totally different bands who somehow complemented each other and there was no doubt that everyone had a great night and I certainly look forward to hearing more from each of them again in the future.


Photo Credit: Kev Rowland


About Daniel Armstrong & The Monsoons

Daniel Armstrong & The Monsoons released their second record in June 2021 with an NZ tour to coincide. The band were due to play a European and US tour in 2020, however, the world seemed to have other ideas.

London born, New Zealand based, indie/alternative song writer Armstrong, claims, since the last record a lot has happened ‘new love, old love, a baby, betrayal, severed fingers, forgiveness and revenge’

The new album is a commentary on living in an anti-culture bubble, that is separate but obsessed with a world that doesn’t exist and an unknown future where technology has killed a big part of human existence.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Daniel Armstrong & The Monsoons


Everything Is As It Shouldn't Be
Year: 2021
Type: Album

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