29 Nov 2022

Remember Me? | Join | Recover
Click here to sign in via social networking
  • Articles »
  • Reviews »
  • Sam Bartells - Gig Review: Sam Bartells @ Ponsonby Social Club, Auckland - 28/05/2022

Sam Bartells - Gig Review: Sam Bartells @ Ponsonby Social Club, Auckland - 28/05/2022

28 May 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

Over to Ponsonby on a Saturday night – I must confess I cannot remember the last time I was in this part of Auckland, very different indeed to the rock dives I normally frequent. But given Sam Bartells was playing a special acoustic show, and it had been a year since I last saw him, it had to be done. It is also always nice to be able to catch up with Ginny and Steve as well, and they were both here tonight with Ginny shooting the show.

The concept was simple in that Sam was sat on a stool with an acoustic, with Mitch French on keyboards. First up was the single Bring Me Down, and it was quite different to hear it in a more stripped back version. This is music as its rawest, just a singer with basic accompaniment performing original material, carrying the audience along with their power. Right from the off, Sam was pouring his heart and soul into this, his vocals full of emotion, strong and passionate. Hearing him perform in this manner was simply wonderful as even though there was less in the way of instrumentation, there appeared to be more depth and breadth.

Then we had Wicked Game, a song I no longer associate with Chris Isaak, but with Coridian so was intrigued to see how this would compare. Sam’s version is different to both, slowed down somewhat, allowing Mitch to display some of his delicate keyboard skills while Sam showed yet again how his vocals come straight from the heart. This is not an easy song to perform so early in the set, with the need to jump into falsetto, yet Sam made it look and sound easy. Although this was a seated gig, people had pushed close to the stage and there was very little in the way of talking as everyone was entranced by what was happening in front of them. Mitch upped the Hammond Organ sound for Let’s Go, adding vocal harmonies and by now Sam was really starting to relax into the show. The mood changed somewhat for Soul Burdened Soldier, which Sam wrote about a friend of his who has passed away, and some of his family were here tonight to hear it. Again, one could tell just how much this meant to Sam as he bared his soul for us – there was no hiding place tonight, he was putting everything out there.

Both Sam and Mitch were seated throughout, and the lights were static, but there was no need for anyone running around the stage or a massive show as this was all about the music and when Sam opened up during Hunger Strike, the power and passion came hurtling through and reverberated off the walls while the audience were enthralled. We were also treated to Good Intentions, which will be released as a single on June 24th. Here Mitch was adding some synthesised strings, and one can easily imagine this being performed by Sam with a string quartet, as it has a sense of real class and honesty within it, especially with him once again lifting his vocals to the rafters.

There was an emotional shift for Ever Seen The Rain, with everyone happily joining in and lots of smiles. Sam had created a set which was deliberately full of dynamic change, so we were going from high tempo singalongs to numbers such as Blessed and Broken which had way more depth and were delivered in a far more thoughtful and reflective manner. White Wolf was another new number which has not yet been released, far more country in manner than much of what had gone before, again performed slowly and with plenty of passion. Mitch also added some important harmonies on this one which helped in lifting it during the chorus, tempering somewhat the raw emotion on display from Sam in the verse.

We were more than an hour into the set by now, and Sam was still pouring his heart out on the stage, and he was surely going to be drained by the end of this as even though he was sat down he was putting everything into it with Queen of Hurt being yet another triumph as he powered through the vocals. The country edge came back with Alone No More, with the riffed guitar having more of a steel edge this time, lighter, and with held-down keyboard chords to play against. Special guest Nail (Devilskin) then joined Sam, with Mitch leaving, to perform the Myles Kennedy/Slash number Bent To Fly. Nail provided wonderful guitar which allowed Sam to concentrate on the vocals, pouring everything into it, even though by now he had been tapping his emotional well for a very long time indeed. Nail showed he is more than adept at throwing out great guitar solos when he is behind an acoustic as much as he is when he is on his usual electric, and together the two of them were producing something very special indeed which was worth coming out for, all on its own.

Nail was only here for the one song, with Mitch returning to the stage, and they went into Englishman in New York, a very different feel to everything which had gone before. The set finished with Morning Light, which Sam recorded in Nashville, and it definitely has that feel to it and it was a wonderful way to finish the evening as it was on a high with a much lighter number. Of course, he was not going to be allowed to get away with just that, so then we were treated to Knocking On Heaven’s Door, played at just the right relaxed tempo for everyone to really get into it.

This was a wonderful night, and I know that everyone there is hoping that we will be able to see Sam in this environment again as it was incredibly personal and real. Stunning.

Photo Credit: Ginny C Photography
View the full gallery here



Let's Go
Year: 2020
Type: Album

Other Reviews By Kev Rowland

Gig Review: Lazy Fifty @ Paraoa Brewing, Whangaparaoa - 24/11/2022
24 Nov 2022 // by Kev Rowland
For my only gig this week, not only am I out on a school night, but I have struggled all the way from South Auckland up to Whangaparaoa, and I must admit it has been years since I have been here. Tonight, Australian trio 19-Twenty are in town, but to be honest I am here for the support band, Lazy Fifty whose last album, 2021: A Lazy Odyssey, I reviewed a year ago.
Reuben Hudson - EP Review: Cloudhead
24 Nov 2022 // by Kev Rowland
This five-track EP is the latest release from Melbourne-based, Tamaki Makaurau (Auckland, New Zealand) multi-instrumentalist and songwriter/producer, Reuben Hudson. Featuring David Harris on drums (Princess Chelsea), mixed by Peter Ruddell (Wax Chattels, Sulfate) and mastered by James Goldsmith (Mermaidens), everything else was played and performed by Reuben himself.
Brian Baker - Single Review: I Won't Back Down
23 Nov 2022 // by Kev Rowland
Although Tom Petty was a massive success in the States, he never saw anything like the same in the UK until he partnered with Jeff Lynne and together, they came up with the masterpiece which is Full Moon Fever. I was blown away and had it on repeat the year I started dating my now wife, and any song from that album always makes me think of 1989, where I was, with no idea my life would be changing dramatically (and for the better).
Bad Jelly Collective - Single Review: Paradigms
23 Nov 2022 // by Kev Rowland
Here we have the latest release from Bad Jelly Collective, which comprises Ben Clark (vocals, guitar, production) and Dave Weir (bass). It is lengthy for a single, being 5:36, but that is due to the large amount of repetition contained within and the very slow build which takes place.
The RVMES - Album Review: Simple Things
23 Nov 2022 // by Kev Rowland
Before I started writing this I went back to my review for the guys’ last album, Lifetime, and part of me thought about copying it pretty much word for word and see if anyone noticed, as I spoke at length as to how many genres they were covering, and we have the same here, possibly more so. Most bands choose a genre, possibly going into a related area as well, and pretty much stay there.
Christine White - Album Review: Raven
23 Nov 2022 // by Kev Rowland
This multi-media project commenced in March 2020, and more than 2 ½ years later the release had come together with five songs (one of which is a remix of the opening title cut by electronic producer Paddy Free, so there are six tracks). These are accompanied by three music videos, and a book of short haiku-style poetry in two languages (English & Farsi), and there is no doubt that this has gained quite a deal of media interest, so yesterday I found myself listening to a very interesting interview with Christine White on RNZ.
Album Review: Goodnight My Darling
22 Nov 2022 // by Kev Rowland
If it hadn’t been for an unfortunate clash with an event I had to attend, I would have been at Whammy a few weeks back to hear Goodnight My Darling, (Maxine Macaulay), and now I have listened to her debut album I so wish I had been able to make it. Still, at least this is now available so those of us who were unable to make it to the tour (last two dates this coming weekend in Wellington and Kapiti) can enjoy this relaxed pleasant romp through different elements of soft pop rock, singer songwriter and shoegaze.
Whero - Single Review: Easy
21 Nov 2022 // by Kev Rowland
There are times when one hears a voice and it feels as if you are being held warm and safe, and that is definitely the case here with Whero, who recently released her debut single. If she has not recorded under this name before, I am sure she must have recorded with others, while this has all the hallmarks of someone who has undertaken a lot of live work.
View All Articles By Kev Rowland

NZ Top 10 Singles

    Sam Smith And Kim Petras
    Taylor Swift
    Meghan Trainor
    Drake And 21 Savage
    David Guetta And Bebe Rexha
    Oliver Tree And Robin Schulz
    Chris Brown
  • 685 (REMIX)
    Victor J Sefo, Lisi And Mwayz
    venbee And goddard.
View the Full NZ Top 40...
muzic.net.nz Logo
100% New Zealand Music
All content on this website is copyright to muzic.net.nz and other respective rights holders. Redistribution of any material presented here without permission is prohibited.
Report a ProblemReport A Problem