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  • Looking For Alaska - Gig Review: Looking for Alaska w/ Chris Dent @ Wine Cellar, Auckland - 22/09/2022

Looking For Alaska - Gig Review: Looking for Alaska w/ Chris Dent @ Wine Cellar, Auckland - 22/09/2022

24 Sep 2022 // A review by Roger Bowie

Here we are on a cool, wet spring night, but as always, it’s warm inside the Wine Cellar. In The Shallows were originally on this bill but have been plagued by some ill health and we can guess what that might be, so instead Looking for Alaska step up and, no surprise, invite their old mate Chris Dent (Albi) along to open the show. This is becoming a habit. Chris popped up a couple of months ago to support his flatmate Finn Johannsen who was opening for Miles Calder. And you just know that whenever Chris/Albi hits the stage, with or without the Wolves, you’re going to get 100%, if not more.

And tonight, there’s more, more bounce, more banter, more ebullience, more guitar, more self-deprecation, more E minor on a pentatonic scale, just more Chris, warm Chris, wrap your arms around him Chris, national treasure Chris, in very fine voice Chris. Finding his faith in moments like this in the abyss, leaning in for the first kiss, trying to evoke his once drinking shambles self and things not always going to plan. But busy. Busy busy, busy, maybe 50 shows lined up this year. Some new songs, some old songs and one very familiar song which needs help from Amy and Aaron who sang on the song from This is War. I’d Go Anywhere to listen to a song like this. Heavenly harmonies. And E minor guitar pentatonics on Fall with You which segues into sausages outside Mitre 10, take your position, ten paces, This is War. Aaron Gott reckons this is the best solo set Albi’s ever done. Who are we to argue?

Chris Dent set list:

1. Underpass
I’m Not Free
Things Don’t Always Go To Plan
Waiting For A Train (?)
I’d Go Anywhere
Natural Attraction
Fall With You
This is War

Looking For Alaska start their set with us looking for Aaron, maybe he’s gone to Russia? Because it’s just Amy on stage, beating a drum, laying down a backing vocal, all funky and grown up and full of soul with a touch of electronica. This is new, and it’s not until a wee while later that we get formally introduced to the newest member of the band, Hector the Loop pedal. So, this is what happens during lockdowns, minor but expressive transformations and 6 new songs. Aaron solos next, they are starting with separate lives, but that’s just a diversion, there are pieces of you and pieces of me but the essence of Looking For Alaska is quickly restored with Love Isn’t Real which Amy is quick to explain is not directed at her husband but the growing-up conflicts with her father during family turbulence. A Marcus Mumford like song ten years in the making In the Backseat or at least Aaron is sounding a bit like Marcus, which of course is no bad thing, but he probably writes better. Amy doesn’t like people, which is just a metaphor, we are happy to hear, for all the Anxiety which comes in the game of life and the figurative hoodie which she hides in. Thank goodness for the honesty and openness of the song, an outlet to help put struggles aside and acknowledge the antidote, fun, and become Whole Again. Six new songs. Great songs. Redemptive, sensitive, human. Looking for Alaska write great songs.

Four songs next which are familiar but still fresh, none more so than Amy’s regret in growing up not being allowed to master Te Reo M?ori, not too late to make amends. Hine Atarau. This song and Lily which go back to back on their second album Light and Shadow are also vehicles for Amy’s outstanding voice and range. Hair-raising, spine shuddering, ear shattering, but a thing of beauty which gives Tami a run for her money. Amy Maynard has one of New Zealand’s biggest voices which can erupt with volcanic intensity and that makes Looking for Alaska more compelling than mere geography or seeing dead people. And the voice so in contrast to both her diminutive size and playful banter, which between them also contributes seductive charm.

You Only See Me When You’re Sleeping is another heartfelt but self-deprecating celebration of the relationship between this couple who never fail to impress. Understated brilliance. Great music.

We play the last song game with a cover of a Matt Corby song before the set closes with The Otherside.

Thanks to Rohan as always for the sound, and just being an all-round good guy for providing this gem of a venue where we get to hear great splendour while looking for Alaska.

Looking For Alaska set list

1. Losing Race
2. Pieces of You
3. Love isn’t Real
4. In the Backseat
5. Anxiety
6. Whole Again
7. All the Broken People
8. Hine Atarau
9. Lily
10. You Only See Me When You’re Sleeping
11. Brother (Matt Corby)
12. The Otherside

Photo Credit: Kev Rowland


About Looking For Alaska

Like two weary vagabonds hitch-hiking along the open road with nothing but a guitar and a suitcase of songs and wayward memories, pop-folk duo Looking For Alaska are ready to set the New Zealand folk scene alight.

Members Aaron Gott and Amy Maynard offer up a sound rooted in country-style guitar and soaring harmonies woven together at their very fibre, intensified by their magnetic on-stage chemistry. The duo's familiarity, closeness and authenticity is fueled by their real-life romance, creating a magnetic performance style that captivates their audience time and time again, and has seen them open for the likes of Fly My Pretties and Herbs, and as a featured act at the Auckland Folk Festival.

Having performed together extensively since they bonded during a recording assignment at music school in 2012, Aaron and Amy embarked upon their newest musical endeavour Looking For Alaska two years ago, and have since worked tirelessly to create a collection of original material, ranging from thigh-slapping, foot-stomping folk sing-alongs, to poignant heart-rending ballads drenched in melancholy.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Looking For Alaska


Light and Shadow
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Looking For Alaska
Year: 2016
Type: Album

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