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Beachware - Gig Review: Beachware @ Space Academy, Christchurch - 11/02/2023

12 Feb 2023 // A review by Peter K Malthus

Last night's Beachware show was my first visit to Space Academy, a smallish venue with a great atmosphere and mouth-watering food. An excellent setting for the two bands I had the pleasure of watching. 

First on the bill was Haven, a Wellington-based trio. Hailing originally from Queenstown, the 3 friends are a very tight musical unit. Bassist/vocalist Ryan Connaghan is quite simply phenomenal. Simply the best bass player I've seen in a long, long time. Fantastic tone, and a fluid, almost aggressive finger-picking style that would have Flea standing with jaw on floor, wondering "What did I just witness?". Beautiful playing, matching well with a fantastic singing voice, and presence for days. True rock star stuff.

Which in no way detracts from the abilities and performance of guitarist/vocalist Tyrone Henderson, deftly crafting lush layers of thoughtful guitar lines that enhanced the beauty of the excellent indie-pop songs Haven treated the audience to. Tyrone has a rich, soulful voice that is only going to improve with age, and harmonized effortlessly and magnificently with Ryan's.

No small mention should be made of the sheer pleasure I got from watching drummer Harrison Maguire, a beatsmith of true distinction. Utterly effortless, Harrison flows behind the kit, a powerhouse of solid competence belied by a calm, relaxed presence. People my age should lock up their offspring, Haven are coming to steal their hearts.

After a quick, slick changeover, Beachware were ready to party, and they did. The intimate crowd clearly loved Beachware, with booties a'shakin all through their set. I'd read their sound self-described as 'Kiwi Surf Pop', I certainly won't argue with that, but to me they were a great deal more. Vocalist/guitarist Rob 'RJ' Hartnell is the quintessential frontperson. Oozing charisma and charm, excellent voice and presence, brilliant performer, warm and engaging, and strikingly good-looking. Rob is the complete package, and was the consummate performer throughout the set.

Bassist Josh Nicholas is a force to be reckoned with, and was NOT going to let Rob out-perform him. One moment he's laying solid bass lines whilst providing backing vocals, the next he's climbed on top of his amplifier, back to the crowd, in his own zone. James Mac (guitar/trumpet) is slick and tasty, never too busy, just playing precisely what each song needs, and doing it with precision and skill. Kiwi drum legend Scotty Pearson was behind the kit, clearly of the opinion that just because one HAS a drum stool, doesn't mean one has to use it, all the while holding down deliciously solid drumming.

Backing vocals were courtesy of Cameo Velvet, a perfectly wonderful voice that was frequently used to enhance instrumental melody lines. However, a surprise treat was Cameo covering the Fur Patrol classic Lydia, and doing a job that would have compelled Julia Deans to give a standing ovation, shouting "Bravo!". A strong, confident stage presence, and a great voice.

Beachware are all excellent performers, and clearly have a strong rapport with one another, showing in the humour and banter liberally applied throughout their set. The audience clearly loved Beachware. And what's not to love? They have a sound that was mixed to perfection by the engineer, and that sound is HUGE. I would love to see them (supported of course by the inimitable Haven) on a big festival stage. They would own it. And they come across as such nice people, they'd probably clean and tidy it before giving it back.

Photo Credit: Jack Mensah.multi
Photos are from Auckland's show at Big Fan on 3 February 2023
View the full galleries here:


About Beachware

Beachware is a Kiwi alt pop group with influences across the board. Featuring 80's inspired keyboards, catchy baselines, and Rob's unmistakably kiwi vocals, Beachware deliver a guitar driven, dance fueled powerpop show.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Beachware


It's Only Time
Year: 2023
Type: Album
Twin Coast Disc Drive
Year: 2017
Type: EP

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