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LIIT - Gig Review: LIIT @ Morningside 605, Auckland - 3/12/2022

04 Dec 2022 // A review by Kev Rowland

It is not often I can say I am at a venue for the first time, but this is indeed the first time I have attended the small but perfectly formed venue which is Morningside 605. I had made my way over to this side of Auckland, and had to park miles away due to Billy Joel playing at Eden Park on the same night, to catch the infamous LIIT and have a party. I was greeted by the wonderful Bailey Roiall (who later tonight would turn into his alter-ego Bam Bam when he picks up a bass), and was soon drinking beer and chatting with Venom Dolls who presented me with a six-pack of Supercharger to thank me for the support I have given them this year, which was both totally unexpected and very appreciated. Tonight, I would be seeing them for the fifth time in 2022, and it soon transpired that I will be seeing them again before the year is out. I have been reviewing for more than 30 years and am sure than even when I was managing a band, I never saw anyone play six times in a year!

But before we got to them, we had the band who were blasting out the soundcheck when I first walked in, Red Light Runners, who comprise Davy Mac (guitar, vocals), Carl Win (bass), and Phil Murray (drums, backing vocals). They kicked off with Grass-Stained Pants, which allowed them to start with a pace which was only a little faster than doom. There is a very strong early Seventies feel about them, reminiscent somewhat of Blue Cheer, and then they kicked it up a gear before bringing it back down again. With just three people in a band everyone must be on the top of their game, all the time, and it is clear these guys have been together for a long time and have played many gigs as they were incredibly tight (note: I later discovered that although they have known each other for years, this was their first ever performance, which I still find it hard to believe). Also, they understand that less is more which means there is plenty of space within the arrangements, so everything can be heard, with everyone having their part to play without overpowering anyone else. Phil is having a blast behind the kit, obviously enjoying himself, so much so that during his Change his grin was pulled back like a man possessed as he kept changing the attacks. Carl plays a five-string bass, and allows himself to provide runs and musical commentary which highlights the instrument, adding nuances to the arrangement which provide additional breadth. Then there is Davey, who has loads of confidence, so much so that next number, Burning, commenced with him accompanying himself with the others joining in after the introduction.

Their music reminds me a lot of the British scene back in the day, just when it was coming out of the blues boom and there is a real honesty and no trickery in what was being played, just a group of guys getting up on a stage and providing music which was from the heart with a real connection from the band to the audience. This place may be small, but there was musical integrity dripping from the walls, and having been offered a ticket to see Billy Joel I knew I had made the right choice as there was nothing corporate here, just melodic hard rock with a hint of metal. Future Uncertain even had Davey rubbing the neck of his guitar against the microphone sound to create an effect, which certainly made me smile. Mind you, when Phil was providing “Doo doo, doo doo” as support vocals during Legs I smiled ever more! Red Light Runners are a band who are out to enjoy themselves, and bring the rest of us along with them.

Then Davey said a short poem before Jailbird which was poignant, powerful, and incredibly deep, then Phil shouted out “1-2-3-4” and we were off into the fastest number of the night so far. We were told that Jekyll & Hyde was about the time Davey got horribly drunk on red wine, beaten up by the police, and woke up the next morning with a black eye not knowing what had happened the night before. They finished with the punchy Sleepwalker, and I am already looking forward to seeing them again soon.

Now it was time for the punchy good time punk of Venom Dolls, who are still the quartet of Summah Auvae (drums), Arlo Frances (bass), Carawei Gao (guitar) and Bridie Campbell (vocals). I have no doubt in my mind that they are the most improved band I have seen this year, from them being incredibly unsure of themselves at Crushfest to returning to the same venue as part of the Written By Wolves gig recently and being like a different band. They started with the pumping White Knuckle Ride and before anyone had chance to take a breath they were onto Mary Sue. The beating heart of these guys is drummer Summah who is very much in her happy place when she is behind the kit, while Arlo has certainly grown in confidence since I first saw them play. It was only tonight I discovered they had only picked up bass just four months before the first gig; no wonder they were nervous that night. Carawei is the riff merchant, linking in with Summah in a way which only comes from playing together for years while at the front is Bridie who has always been a great singer but is relishing the frontwoman role more and more.

Fucked Up is the boisterous number one would expect from the title, but there are sections where she is singing unaccompanied which takes nerves. The same is true for Don’t Wanna Be which starts off almost like a ballad, right up to the time when Summah counts everyone in, and it turns into a blaster which had plenty of people up and dancing. This venue is a great place for Venom Dolls as everyone is on the same level, with the band and audience right in each other’s faces, daring the other to go louder and harder. After a few numbers which had some sensitivity and poise, it was now time to go back for the full-frontal attack which is ALAB (short for All Landlords Are Bastards) which has a wonderfully catchy chorus and just when everyone is starting to really get into it, it stops! Arlo leads everyone in with a bassline and we are into Obsessed, and I found myself smiling as I know all this material so well and wonder what it will be like when I come to review the next EP or debut album as it will be like hearing old friends. Here we have a song which starts off at one pace, gradually speeds up before it ends sweetly and gently.

Then it was time for Woemans Lullaby which got people moving again before they ended with their ferocious cover of Funeralopalis. The first time I heard them play this, it was the opener, now it is the second time I have heard it as the closer (they keep changing the set to make it interesting both to them and the audience). This is true doom, which they carry off with panache, as if it is the style they always play, slaves of the leaden riff and crunching drums. Those at the front had been bending with the weight of the sound, but when they opened it up, everyone was off and dancing like maniacs. Such a great live band – looking forward to catching them again at Dead Witch before Christmas.

Now it was the headline band, the mighty LIIT. Tonight, the line-up was Duke Daisy (vocals), Bam Bam (bass), Sandy Nigella (drums) and John Whorey (guitar), but possibly that was not their real names? With members of Cold By Winter, Blindspott and Written By Wolves in the house this promised to be a load of fun, while the bassist historically found himself in the British press for breaking his leg on stage at Dead Witch (not so much for the break, but for the angle the leg ended up at, shins are not supposed to go that way), so I was looking forward to this. Any comments on how happy Sandy looked in a pixie outfit will of course be ignored…

LIIT aim to be the perfect party band, out to have a good time, and even before they started playing everyone was intrigued by the costume choice of the evening, and when they kicked into Placebo’s Pure Morning it was no longer possible for most people to see them as they were just swamped. Sandy was pumping from the back, Bam was providing powerful bass (strange to think he has only played live a couple of times in the last two years), John was relaxing into the riffs which comes only from someone who has just finished a nationwide tour and then at the front was Duke who is a frontman personified. I was talking to Lisa about him the other day, and she said his band had played at their fifth birthday party in the early 2000’s, which shows he has been around for a long time, and he certainly belongs on a stage as he is one of the rare people who know exactly what needs to be done to get the crowd engaged.

After The Datsuns we were into I Kissed A Girl, the hard rock version of course, and realised I knew who Duke reminded me of both in terms of his vocals and the way he works the crowd, none other than Iggy Pop. We were told we were about to witness the worse cover band of all time, and they asked for people from the audience to come up and sing with them as they launched into Juice by Lizzo, not really a song one would expect to be given the punk rock treatment. John kicked out the next riff, and then we were all singing along to Man! I Feel like a Woman!. This was so much fun that it would have been easy to overlook the reason it was so good is that these guys are incredibly tight and a real blast, having as much fun as the audience. We now dropped back nearly twenty years in time for a “new number”, namely Jet’s Are You Gonna Be My Girl. Everyone was having fun in the band, so were the audience, and the promised party was in full swing.  

Lauren Borhani then joined the band on stage for a roaring version of Girlfriend, and if she had any nerves of being in front of a rabid audience, she certainly did not show it, joining in with the band and having a great time, nailing it. Mind you, the last time I saw her on stage the drummer was the guitarist, and the guitarist was the drummer, oh well. Now it was onto Feel Good Hit Of The Summer (QOTSA) which had me concentrating so much on writing and listening that I didn’t see Bam Bam heading my way until it was too late which got me a kiss before he went back to the band. Now it was into indie with Arctic Monkeys’ Dance Floor, and anyone who was not dancing before this was certainly having a boogie now. The next song made the most sense of all, as they blasted into Sedated, and if a band ever demonstrated the fun of Ramones, it is LIIT.

Duke got everyone singing with him to Stacey’s Mum for a chorus, and then we were into Gay Bar with everyone in 605 singing and moving, but when it was time for The D4’s Sake Bomb, the place went insane. There was just one song left, but Bam Bam started singing unaccompanied – until the crowd all joined in when they recognised Angels. Then we finished with the real last song, with Sandy stood on his kit reaching down to the cymbals, and everyone in the vicinity singing the words to the classic Bliss. The perfect song on a perfect night, and Bam Bam felt more people needed to hear it so he went outside onto the pavement. The band kept playing, although when he came back inside, he then decided to play while walking along the bar, so Lauren took his microphone to join in on the final shouts. What a band, what a night. The final words belonged to Duke, “okay, now let’s get drunk” and we were done.


Photo Credit: Kev Rowland

 

 

About LIIT

Auckland based party themed band all about having nothing but a good time. Playing a collection of songs you'll know as well as some originals all about partying.

LIIT has crafted a stage show dedicated to shoeys, shots, & general booze related fun, busting out hits by Queens of the Stone Age, Beastie Boys, Deja Voodoo, as well as other favourites about drinking, drugs, & Rock n Roll.

Photo Credit: Nikita Weir/Antonia Pearl Photography

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for LIIT

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