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  • The Jordan Luck Band - Gig Review: The Jordan Luck Band & Ekko Park @ The Tuning Fork, Auckland - 3/09/2022

The Jordan Luck Band - Gig Review: The Jordan Luck Band & Ekko Park @ The Tuning Fork, Auckland - 3/09/2022

03 Sep 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

Tonight, it was back to The Tuning Fork for another fun night of great rock music. I knew Midnight Oil were playing next door so got here early, and not only managed to get a free parking space, but the lighting guys made sure I had a great place to be able to review from and even provided me with power and my own lighting. Sweet! Earlier in the week I had contacted Joe Walsh asking if he could sort out the setlists for me, and true to his word he contacted me earlier today to send me both bands, and then contacted me again later when one of them had changed. Sometimes it is hard work getting information from artists, but this was just so easy – he has a reputation for being one of the nicest guys in the business and I can see why!

Jordan and the guys had a photo shoot before the gig, and it was great to see just how relaxed they are around each other, just a load of mates messing about. When that was done the doors opened, the crowd swelled, and a real buzz started to generate. Ekko Park came onto the stage to a backing track and blue lights and the crowd started to move forward. I have been hearing good things about the new line-up, and as it has been years since I last saw them play, I was really looking forward to this. The band is Joe Walsh (lead vocals, guitar), Jessie Booth (guitar, backing vocals), Bryan Bell (bass), and Nick Douch (drums) and are always guaranteed to provide a good time.

With no messing they kicked straight into Today’s the Day, with Joe centre stage full of angst and riffs and Jessie providing harmonies both vocally and on guitar while Bryan and Nick locked it down. They are such a tight outfit, straight in with no messing, and with just a count in from Nick they went into Validation from the second album, 2015’s Know Hope. These guys meant business from the off, and Joe is a star, in total control of what is going on. Their style of alternative rock is melodic, edgy and with balls while never being too heavy. With encouragement from Joe the crowd moved forward (“C’mon, it’s a rock and roll show!”), and then we were into the current single, Darling Baby, where Jessie took some lead vocals.

Jessie was stolen from Elemeno P and She Loves You, so it was only fitting that Ekko Park then played one of their numbers, 11-57, which allowed her to show off her soloing skills as the band crunched it up a little more and the beck and call vocal interplay between her and Joe demonstrated another side to the band. I was also by now incredibly impressed by Nick and Bryan as not only do they firmly keep it together, but the bass is very melodic indeed while Nick is one of those drummers who not only hits the kit incredibly hard but provides loads of fills which gives additional layers. We were now treated to a brand-new song, Phase, where Joe was totally in the zone and they followed this up with another newie, the high octane Outrun the Rain. All I can say about this, is if the recorded version contains the same energy and edge then this is a sure hit as it blasts from beginning to end while also staying commercial.

Tea & Toast is poppier, with a superb running bassline, and one can understand just why it was released as a single from the last album as it is singalong, catchy, bouncy, and a whole load of fun with Joe careering around the stage allowing Jessie to provide the lead licks. For those outside New Zealand, Ekko Park have had Top 20 albums, and while they have played numerous gigs with Jordan over the years, they are also an incredibly popular band in their own right, as they showed by blasting into one of their latest singles, Breakdown. This is not a band prepared to rest on their laurels but working hard towards their fourth album, and I for one just cannot wait.

They were getting near the end of the set now and decided to heat up the room by blasting out Pretty Vacant. That it was both true to the original and sounded as if it could have been an Ekko Park original says a lot about the band. They ended their set with the blistering Uh Oh from 2020’s Horizon, and it was all over way too soon. This is a band who enjoy playing with Jordan, but they are way too good to be a support act, and I am so looking forward to seeing them again soon.

I went outside for a break and managed to catch up with Neill from (Villainy) as well as Charlie and Kyle from (Dead Favours} (the next single should be out by the end of the month and the new album at the beginning of next year). Then it was back in time to hear everyone singing Dragon’s Rain, and then it was JLB.

Jordan is rock royalty in New Zealand, with a reputation built strongly on being one of the best performers around, and there is no doubt whatsoever that The Exponents were one of the classic bands, and tonight we were going to hearing plenty of songs we all knew. Alongside Jordan there is of course Bryan Bell (guitar), Beaver (drums), Rich Mixture (bass) and of course Joe Walsh (guitar). They kicked off with Sink Like A Stone and already the crowd were in motion. Jordan knows he is a star and is always happiest when he is on a stage, and with a great band around him anything is possible. Only Die was followed by Erotic, and when it was brought down everyone in the crowd was clapping their hands and joining in on the chorus.

Joe did warn me that the setlist could change with no notice, and when Jordan announced that the next number was recorded by The Dance Exponents 40 years earlier, I was somewhat surprised as it wasn’t what I expected at all. But when they launched All I Can Do it was like stepping back in time with everyone singing along and just having so much fun. The band is tight, the songs are epic, and Jordan is Jordan. Who could want any more on a Saturday night. The next number was dedicated to Graham Brazier, and we were off into Blue Lady: it may not be one of Jordan’s hits but it felt right, and it is a great way to keep the audience dancing and singing. When Jordan brought his harmonica for the solo, there was a huge round of applause. Joe and Jordan shared a hug while Bryan gave us the guitar solo and yet again it felt just like mates having as much fun onstage as we were having in the audience.

Jordan then told us the next song was written by an egotistical wally about himself, and we were off into Your Best Friend Loves Me Too and the energy levels were only ramping up, with there being no choice whatsoever regarding everyone shouting the chorus at the top of their lungs. There was no time for a rest though, as then it was time for La La Lulu, where Jordan shows just how well he can perform in a stop start arrangement where there are sections when it is just him. The energy he was providing on the stage would put someone to shame many years his junior, but it is as if the years just fall off him when he in his natural environment, with a band behind him and a crowd in front of him. Somehow, he just keeps getting better every time I see him – here is a rock star who is never going to slow down.

As if the night could not get any better, Joe kicked off the chords everyone in New Zealand knows so well, and it was time for Victoria. Epic, classic, there is something special and timeless about this, and when the band stopped in the middle the crowd just kept singing. It is one of those songs which everyone knows, and one cannot imagine Jordan ever playing a gig without it. The next song was dedicated to the Irish team which beat the All Blacks, no hang on that was the Argentinians, no hang on it was the English! (Yes, the All Blacks are having a torrid time at present, but they did beat Argentina 53-3 tonight, thankfully). They launched into U2’s I Will Follow which was rambunctious, crazy and massively over the top, and a hell of a lot of fun with Joe getting lead vocal on one verse.

Bryan then took centre stage to pay a tribute to the band he feels is the greatest New Zealand band of all time, Split Enz, and then took the lead on History Never Repeats which got the crowd singing loudly once more. We were then treated to a song from the band’s latest album, in fact there is only one album (Joe did say it was released 44 years ago but it was actually only six, time for a new one perhaps?) and they blasted into the monster which is Under The Mercury Moon. The band were still kicking hard on the stage, and the crowd were responding, and by now the venue was easily the hottest I had ever felt with everyone in the groove.

All night Jordan had been introducing the band, saying where they were from, so now he handed over the microphone to Joe who was announced as being from Waiheke, Ireland! There were loud cheers as Joe then ripped into Iggy Pop’s The Passenger. Jordan was having a blast listening to the band play, joining in on backing vocals when the time was right. Needless to say, we all knew this one as well, and Joe soon had the audience singing back to him. It was starting to turn into karaoke as although Jordan then again took centre stage to sing I’ll Say Goodbye (Even Though I’m Blue) there really was no need. This then became the audience participation section of the night with the women against the man, and Joe providing the guitar.

With the crowd up for everything, the band then launched into Forever Tuesday Morning by The Mockers, yet another classic where every Kiwi knows the words, so we sang! It didn’t matter that the average age of the audience was north of 40, everyone was singing, dancing, clapping, and having the absolute party this band is so famous for. But there were still plenty of hits to come, and then it was time for Who Loves Who The Most, to which Jordan said they love us the most, and we bounced, and sang, and moved some more. This then segued into another Exponents classic, Whatever Happened To Tracey, which was the end of the set so the band left the stage. Mind you, everyone knew there was more to come as there was no way Jordan would be allowed to leave without playing that song.

They were soon back and blasted into April Sun in Cuba! This was yet another surprise, but when it is a NZ classic, who cares? Tonight, the guys on the stage owned this song, and the audience were right there with them, it was party time and no-one wanted it to end. But if it was going to end it was going to be with Why Does Love Do This To Me and we lifted our voices one more time with Jordan giving us the first chorus. That was it, the last shout of the party but what a blast, what a truly epic night. I have seen some truly stunning gigs this year and there is no doubt this is right up there with the very best. I am going to make sure it is not so long until I see both these bands again as this was a very special gig indeed.

 

This review is humbly dedicated to Neil Swanson, a much-loved teacher at Verran Primary who died suddenly on the school fields last Friday. He was supposed to be here tonight as he had a ticket, but instead, today was his funeral. Our thoughts are with his family, friends, and all those at the school.


Photo Credit: Nikita Weir / Antonia Pearl Photography
The Jordan Luck Band Gallery
Ekko Park Gallery

 

About The Jordan Luck Band

‘Legend’ is a word suffering from chronic overuse syndrome these days, but when it comes to Jordan Luck, the word regains it’s full meaning and one the NZ public associates with this true blue Kiwi artist. This affection is obviously felt amongst his musical peers as well who bestowed Jordan the honour of Inaugural Inductee into the New Zealand Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame. As front man and pop-writing genius with the legendary Exponents, he clocked up a staggering 18 Top 40 singles over the years, with Victoria recently voted by public as the 8th greatest New Zealand song of all time. These days on any given weekend you will hear packed stadiums of sports fans singing in unison (if not in-tune) Why Does Love Do This To Me? a song that seems to have taken on the mantle as the ‘unofficial’ alternative NZ national anthem.

THE JORDAN LUCK BAND is the new super deluxe Frankenstein incarnation backing the iconic kiwi singer these days. Every gig the band play the best of all those iconic tracks we know and love as well as a collection of recently penned and possible future stadium sing-a-longs of tomorrow. Meticulously designed by Jordan himself from the ground up this band has just the one purpose...to bring Jordan’s blend of pop rock genius from the past, present and future… back to the masses!

Hand-picked from a wish-list of players Jordan wanted to work with the word went out, his fantasy starting line up were contacted and unsurprisingly they all signed up, there was no need to refer to the list of reserves…so, starting from the stage right part of the paddock…

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for The Jordan Luck Band

Releases

Not Only... But Also
Year: 2016
Type: Album

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