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Investigator - Gig Review: Investigator @ Dead Witch, Auckland - 30/09/2022

01 Oct 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

Back to Dead Witch for another night of rock ‘n’ roll. I have reviewed Investigator quite a lot and saw Crystalator support them the last time I saw them at the Cupid, but tonight the band opening was new to me, Glasshouse Keepers.

They kicked off at the ungodly hour of 8:30, and I could not believe how many people there were in the audience, as often there are just a few misplaced bandmembers kicking around that early, but it was obvious the crowd knew exactly who Glasshouse Keepers were and expected a good time. The band comprise Danielle Hawkins (vocals), Brian McDonald (lead guitar and screams), Linton Graetz (rhythm guitar and backing vocals), Giacobe Otty (bass) and Kevin Jaspers (drums), and after the soundcheck the band asked me if I was likely to give them a good review, and I replied I had never seen a singer having so much fun at a soundcheck, so what was the gig going to be like? They kicked off with Always Never, which was solid rock with both metal and pop tendencies, and it is obvious that Danielle is one of those singers who lives to be in front of a band, as not only does she have a great voice, but she is having so much fun it’s infectious. No screwing up of the face for this lady, she smiles much all the time (and never stops moving).

Kevin is one of those drummers who drives the band forwards, always pushing (and sounds if he normally plays in much heavier outfits), while Giacobe sits back in the pocket often providing a third melody. Linton sits between bass and drums to give the others a platform, while Brian is also approaching his guitar in a more metallic style with some interesting noodling and attacks, all combining to provide complex arrangements which are brought together by Danielle. Kodiak showed the band could really set up a monster groove when they wish, with Kevin piling in some frenetic rolls around the kit. The audience were even encouraged to wave their arms in the air, and before 9:00 (when most of them were still sober), they did! I had a chat with barman Brad (from Deathnir and asked what he thought to which he replied, “I’m having a good time”, to which I agreed. One of the nice things about their songs is there is a great deal going on within the arrangements and each sound quite different to the last. Echo has an interesting introduction, with a marching pattern on the snare and Gilmour-style guitar from Brian and when Danielle sang the first verse she did so kneeling on the stage, reflective of just how different and quieter this one is. Needless to say, it soon started to build with everything ramping up, and Danielle putting a rasp on her vocals. Everything was tied back to the bass, creating a very different feeling indeed.

When they announced the next song was going to be one no-one in the audience had heard, Knock Off, there were quite a few shouts from the crowd which again proved they have brought a lot of fans in with them tonight. There was a lot of space within this one, as well as complexity, and it also allowed Danielle room to scream and hold long notes. New Oblivion is one of their songs which is fairly short, and it is somewhat of a surprise when it ends. Danielle then rehearsed the audience in the words they had to sing in a beck and call in their final song, Carbon Copy, and there was no way they were acting as if they were the opener on a three-band bill! I really enjoyed their set and look forward to hearing more from them in the future.

Investigator were doing something unusual tonight, as although it was their album launch, they had decided to split their set in two, so they were coming on next to play the album from beginning to end: a brave approach given the album has not actually been released yet, and then they were coming back after Crystalator to play an encore set. This means they opened with The Raiser, one of their heavier numbers, and one which they closed with the last time I saw them. They play melodic hard rock with loads of pop hooks and twists, which is why so many of their singles have seen serious radio play and chart success, with the next two songs being fine examples. Shade is built around a monstrous bass and is a song about the domestic violence too often suffered by women, with the guitars riffing over the top while Dave keeps the bass chugging along. Lake of Eyes followed, a mysterious belter which had some serious chart success. The lead guitar over the melody has something of a Simple Minds arena style yet is more direct. Seeing Investigator play on a proper stage in a room with a serious soundman meant they were easily the loudest and heaviest I had heard them play, and it definitely suits their style. Adrian also told everyone from the stage that they were playing the album, then Crystalator and then they would come back for some more songs and the raffle!!                                                                                                       

Sores is going to be the next single, another catchy belter where Adam is often noodling over the top as well as taking a crisp solo. I was wondering if Adrian was able to hear himself properly though as there were times when he was noticeably offkey during this and that is not like him at all. Whatever the problem was it soon went away, and we were into another single (I had not realised just how many songs I knew from this release), Bad Luck’s Shoebox, which has a chugging riff with a simple guitar melody over the top which totally transforms it. Adrian really does have a wonderful knack of writing songs which are catchy, punchy, yet also fit for the radio. Don’t Touch Me! commences with Adrian and Adam swapping riffs before all the band combine and is a classic crowd singalong which one could easily imagine being penned by Jordan Luck, and certainly belongs to that era. Yet another single was next, the very different YOUnique where the band slow it right down and then Adrian delivers vocals in falsetto, while Adam’s guitars are providing a melody over the top which is very different to what is being played by the rest of the band, but it works really well. The set was supposed to end with Downtown, another very different number with beck and call vocals, but we were treated to a quick truncated version of The Raiser to whet our appetite for when they came back.

it was time for Crystalator who greatly impressed me the last time I saw them play. They came out of Meridian Vibe and the tightness which comes with playing together for a significant time really shows as they came out and kicked ass right from the beginning with Sludge, showing that here was a more metallic approach to the evening. Then they launched into Message To My Girl, and I am sure Neil Finn and Eddie Rayner never expected it would sound like this as although the vocals had that familiar twang and style, the arrangement had been turned into an alt rock metallic monster. Dave hits the drums incredibly hard, all the time, but Kelly (vocals/guitar), Harry (bass/vocals) and Richard (guitar) all crunch it out, creating a wall of sound with the vocals over the top. 

However, they understand the need for contrast so different songs slow it down, others speed it up, some have sections with no guitar while at others it is buzzsaw to the wall. They do the same with the vocals, so while the harmonies are effective there are also plenty of times when it is just Kelly. They are incredibly tight, and there are times when guitars/bass/drums are all playing exactly the same rhythm and tempo and it only works as they are incredibly synchronised. They are another band who benefit from having the volume up at 11, as they have the presence which demands it. There are definite 80’s British punk influences in much of what they do, with I Can't Get One Over You being yet another enjoyable romp with a simple guitar pattern, twin vocals and belted drums, but there is something about it which demands attention. This is powerful stuff, and the guys were hammering it down, which was probably quite a shock to those who were looking for the melodic and hook-laden Investigator, as Crystalator were definitely not taking any prisoners and were bringing the noise, loud and proud.

Kelly admitted he was losing his voice towards the end of the set but with just a few more songs to go he pushed through, and the band just kept pumping riff after riff. I am somewhat surprised I have not seen the guys more on the Auckland circuit as their alt metal sound contains a load of influences and they are a wonderfully tight act with strong material. Hopefully, they will be back at Dead Witch again soon.

Now Investigator were back for a romp through another six songs (and don’t forget the raffle), kicking off with Livin’ in a Magazine, another single and the space and style were so very different indeed to what had happened just now, with a strong melodic guitar from Adam, while Dave and Craig keep it locked down with Adrian providing the rhythm guitar and vocals which create memorable hooks. Goodbye Car has an almost reggae approach in its chopped style, and each of these songs were showing different sides of the band but always wrapped up in melodies and hooks. There was now a slight pause in proceedings as Adrian announced the winning tickets for the raffle, which was a somewhat unusual thing to happen in the middle of a rock gig before going into Candlelight which tonight was dedicated to Jay Bulletproof. This is a much more reflective and restrained number about suicide. 7 Ways had a small but delicately formed bass solo, and then we had the last of the raffle before they finished with a Simple Minds cover, Don’t You (Forget About Me). 

Although the setup was somewhat different, this was yet another great night a Ding Dong.


Photo Credit: Kev Rowland

 

About Investigator

It's all about the melodies and soaring choruses, with catchy riffs & driving guitar. These are bright shiny songs with dark undertones, a juxtaposition reflecting life. The love, loss and societal stabs feature heavy... but within the dark brooding space there is always a hint of optimism.




Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Investigator

Releases

Shade
Year: 2022
Type: Album
Investigator
Year: 2018
Type: EP

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