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Dead Favours - Gig Review: Dead Favours @ Valhalla, Wellington - 12/11/2022

14 Nov 2022 // A review by Nicholas Clark
There was a palpable energy in Valhalla on Saturday night; something akin to an orchestra warming up before an opera or athletes preparing for a big game. Before the first act, standing patrons were clamouring for the front line to enjoy three fantastic (and quite different) rock bands. The attire ranged from minimal rock n’ roll hint (think mainly black, leather jackets, tight jeans), blues rock fans (casual denim, a few ironic patches) to colourful alternative (with a few gothic choke necklaces and other spiky jewellery thrown in). Altogether, the punters at Valhalla looked pumped.

First up, local favourites Curly Jewels began the night with straight ahead rock vigour and a solid wall of sound the band crafted to perfection with their very own sound man. Floating above this impressive noise was their frontwoman, Jel Pollock, singing atop the forceful waves of riffs. Her vocal abilities carried the band while her dance moves inspired the growing crowd before them. Between songs she quipped, joked and introduced her band. Clearly enjoying every minute of their set, Jel got the house jumping and playing air guitar and headbanging. Her singing stances were one part Iron Maiden’s Bruce Dickinson, one part Runaway’s Cherie Ann Currie. Behind her, Aaron, Andy and Corey (guitar, bass and drums) built the structure for Jel to propel her melodies over.

Although their music was at times simplistic, the straightforward approach of the band clearly worked to allow the singer to shine. Unhindered by an instrument, Jel came into the moshpit, touched fans by the hand from the stage, grooved and really felt the music on stage offering many awesome moments for the photographers to catch the band rocking out. Crowd favourite and most recent single Criminal was executed with precision and clarity, nearly identical to the recorded version.

Next, Sea Mouse took to the stage and presented an altogether different vibe. Front man Seamus Johnson played a little bit back from the front of the stage, perhaps due to his impressive pedal board and initial microphone stand issues. The lights on the stage, unlike the rock-star posturing of Curly Jewels, positively silhouetted the band by back lighting and smoke machines (making for some difficult photography given Seamus’ erratic movement during songs). However, while the first band played simple solid rock riffs, Sea Mouse played their patented complex, blues-inspired and at times unpredictable rock that veered from delta-blues to groovy stoner chug-rock. At times they were delightfully playful in their control of their dynamics, then raw with their blues-inspired road-house-rock, the next minute a riff the weight of a large truck would shatter the preconceived notion of where you might think the song was heading.

Seamus’ solos were also tightly played one second, then wildly howling out of control the next. You could see the crowd lurch, groove, mosh, then nearly lose their footing, all in one song. Above it all, Seamus’ expressive and surprisingly high voice cut through the other instruments creating less of a wall of sound, but a specifically shaped beast that allowed Scott Maynard’s funky bass to support and frame the guitar and voice, while Thomas Friggens played frantically and urgently on the kit behind, performing some of the most insane fills in the night. The band did an extended version of Side B Track 1 with some elaborate improvisations making for a truly sensational version.

Lastly, the band everyone had been waiting for: Auckland’s Dead Favours arrived. This band played the rock-star concept to the hilt. Behind them, the neon sign brandishing their initials lit up and Dead Favours began their set. This band differed once again, relying on a heavy bass sound that seemed inspired by Queens of The Stone Age and New Zealand’s own Shihad.

Jared Wrennall (playing guitar and on main vocals) brought the crowd to fist-pumping levels of hysteria with a hooky introduction to a song, a shouted supportive message and just a hint of rock-star cliche posing. The fans lapped it up, loving every moment the band left the stage to headbang in the mosh pit or when Wrennall stood atop a table behind the crowd to finish up a crowd favourite. All of the members put their very best into the performance as evidenced by the sweat and looks of exhaustion as their neared the end of the set. Finally, when the amps howled in distorted feedback before the band walloped one last coda, Dead Favours had no doubt converted a handful of new fans and not disappointed any who had come to see them rock.

Photo Credit: Nicholas E. Clark
Dead Favours Photo Gallery
Curlys Jewels Photo Gallery
Sea Mouse Photo Gallery


About Dead Favours

Combining a mix of huge fuzzy and sometimes quirky riffs, groove-laden drums, beautiful falsetto vocals mixed with arena commanding screams and a level of songwriting that some say has been missing from rock for some time, Dead Favours have been quick to grab the attention of the New Zealand music scene and are going from strength to strength in a very short time.

Since their formation in early 2016, the band have released a string of singles, the most notable to date being Dig (produced by Shihad’s Tom Larkin), a riff-centric banger that quickly grabbed the attention of both audiences and radio programmers alike, spending an impressive 27 weeks in the charts. The success of this debut single lead to a nationwide tour alongside the already popular Skinny Hobos, Decades and Bakers Eddy which saw the band increase momentum and pick up an army of new fans all around the country.

The band quickly followed with the singles High Flying and Better The Weather (produced again by Tom Larkin) which has seen the band go on to be invited to perform at festivals such as Jim Beam Homegrown, Demon Energy Rock The Park and share the stage with international acts Royal Blood and Rise Against which was received with rave reviews;

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Dead Favours


Riffing & Yelling Part 2
Year: 2023
Type: Album
Riffing & Yelling Part 1
Year: 2021
Type: Album
Year: 2019
Type: Album
The Dead EP
Year: 2018
Type: EP

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