30 Sep 2022
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Gig Review: Volts @ Wine Cellar, Auckland - 16/09/2022

16 Sep 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

To be honest, I wasn’t supposed to be here tonight, but yesterday I was checking out the gig I was supposed to be attending only to discover the band had pulled out due to injury. Although I had already reviewed one show this week (the excellent Pop Will Eat Itself at Tuning Fork) I had been geared up for this one so wondered, what else was on in Auckland? It took me 30 seconds to see that Tablefox were out gigging, and as I enjoyed them recently and reviewed their last single just a few weeks back I knew that would be good. But they were playing support to someone I had never heard of, who are up from Christchurch, Volts, so I knew this meant another trip to Wine Cellar as I was not going to miss this opportunity.

The last time I saw Tablefox they were supporting Capital Theatre in front of a huge light show at Tuning Fork, so tonight was going to be a little more subdued, especially as they were competing against You Am I at Galatos and an Emo Night at Ding, but it promised to be a lot of fun. Even though tonight was at Wine Cellar there was actually more room for Tablefox here than at Tuning Fork, which meant they were not all cramped together and could move, and seemed way more relaxed. They kicked off with Desire or Love and right from the off they were locked in with Henrik providing the foundation, Clint locking in on bass, Chris providing the rhythm and Matt providing those glorious notes over the top of it all. Clint has a powerful voice and their melodic rock transfers incredibly well to the live setting where it becomes that little bit more rough, more raucous. 

There is a real pop mentality to their songs, some great melodies with great dual vocals, and while they can certainly blast it out there is also plenty of finesse. Take Keep Them Guessing for example, there are sections where there is no guitar at all, just vocals, drums and bass and others where they are much more like U2 with powerful anthemic rock, all in one song. One of the highlights of their set is their cover of Australian Crawl’s classic, Reckless, which they very much make their own. They push the Simple Minds sound with Burning Bridges, one of the heaviest songs in their set which has a much more punk feeling with Henrik blasting away at the back and while Matt does some lovely Edge-style solos and noodling he comes back in with the riffs during the chorus to make this one of the most metallic numbers in their set. I was certainly looking forward to hearing their latest single, Give It All, and I was not disappointed as even though there is a brass section on the recorded version here it takes on new life as it is incredibly powerful with a wonderful build. The arrangement is what really makes this song, as the short breaks allows the ears to reset and the way they finish and then come back in again is incredibly effective. 

Light in the Darkness starts far more delicately with Clint singing and Chris picking then providing some harmony vocals, and all the crowd were soon clapping in time, but then of course it turns into an emotional banger. Tired Soul is very different indeed, with chugging riffs, harmony vocals, great hooks and Matt again using his pedal board to make his guitar leads sound like a synth, providing a very different sound. This is one of the things which make Tablefox such a great live band in that they are always mixing up the sound and one is never sure what they are going to be coming up with next, just that it is going to be a load of fun. Ghostlines was just Clint and Chris, showing a very different side again to the band, just vocals and picked guitar. Again, they then switched it up with the full and giving us a powering rock version of Bowie’s Heroes, Matt again providing synth sounds from his guitar. They may have been coming to the end of the set, but they were sounding just as fresh as when they started and tonight I came away even more impressed than the last time I saw them. They finished the night with the blasting Something Better, and all I can say is that if you live in Auckland this is a band you really need to get out to see as they are solid, tight, with great songs and are definitely worth catching.

Next up was Volts from Christchurch. I was talking to Rock FM DJ Lee Weir beforehand, and he told me I needed to describe singer Lorna Coll as a six-foot vixen, and that she rocked, really rocked. Needless to say, I was intrigued. They kicked off with Circles, and immediately I could see why they are such a good fit with Tablefox as Dan Chisholm is another drummer who hits the kit really hard, Victoria Knopp provides a strong bass while guitarists Andrew Knopp and Marc Royal provide the blast, swapping lead and rhythm with Andrew also providing some additional keyboards. There are too few rock bands around with good female lead vocalists, and there is no doubt whatsoever that Lorna definitely not only has the chops as she is a great singer, but is a wonderful performer, and is so into the music. Add to that some great harmony backing vocals from Victoria, which means the band has a twin female attack at times, combined with great pop rock melodies and here was a band which was kicking from the off. 

Some bands look insecure onstage, or are not quite sure what to do with themselves, but that is not the case here as everyone is having fun and doing whatever they can to put on a show. I kept realising I should be writing, and I was spending too much time just listening and watching as the guys are a great band. Lee told me when he first heard them, he thought they were significant better than a lot of what he is sent, and I can see exactly why. Somehow, we were already onto the fourth song, Into The Night, which meant we were a third of the way through the set, surely that could not be right? This is a belting melodic rocker with some nice bass and guitar interplay, it is packed full of pop sensibilities, just transferred into melodic rock and then over the top is Lorna, with her wonderful vocals, holding the notes as high and as powerful as you like. Mind you, I did smile when she brought out a tambourine in one of the instrumental sections, not something you often see at a rock gig! 

There is no doubt that here we have a very polished unit with the guitarists either side of the stage and letting the two ladies rule the centre. I have long considered Ant Ward Just One Fix to be the rock god of bassists in NZ as he is so laid back onstage. While Victoria cannot compete with him in the beard stakes, he may well have met his match in every other area as she is throwing shapes, reacting with the other musicians, in the musical world of her own creation, all the time providing killer backing vocals when the need arises. Her and Lorna are in total command, making for a very special experience indeed. When You Go is the new single, and by now I was wondering why I had not come across these guys beforehand as they are just so much fun, and I was having a blast. They followed this with one of their oldest songs, Rabbit Hole, where Lorna rises above the melodic foundation to create something very special indeed as she lives the lyrics, putting in an edge when needed. 

Wild N Out is another one of their singles, and apparently is really hard to sing, but Lorna did not seem to struggle at all and with Victoria providing a lot of the melody, Marc riffing while Andrew switched between guitar and keyboards and Dan continuing to bash the hell out of his snare it was quite something. The long-held notes in the chorus really allow Lorna and Victoria to shine. It should be illegal to have so much fun at a rock gig as I just had a massive smile on my face tonight. They then showed one of their influences by playing When You Were Young by The Killers, before ripping into Always Tomorrow which is one of their faster songs which includes some wonderful runs up and down the scales and is just a bouncy joyful jumpy up and down thing from beginning to end. This Time is another commercial belter and by now I was seriously starting to wonder why there is no album as they have killer tune after killer tune. 

The last song of the night was Wolves, which has been getting decent radio airplay, and Victoria was still throwing shapes as if she has just stepped onto the stage, Lorna was belting out the notes, Andrew and Marc were locked and Dan still tried to break the drum kit. It has been a while since I have come across a band by accident and been so blown away by what I have seen and heard. On the basis of this performance, it is not going to be long before far bigger stages beckon.  

Two wonderful bands, one heck of a night.


Photo Credit: Antonia Pearl Photography/ Nikita Weir Images
Volts Photo Gallery

 

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