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Devilskin - Gig Review: Devilskin @ Ngaio Marsh Theatre, Christchurch - 12/05/2023

14 May 2023 // A review by Peter K Malthus

Devilskin have an excellent reputation as not only one of New Zealand's hardest working bands, but also as genuinely lovely people. I will second that reputation, adamantly. I've had numerous chats with Paul Martin (Bass guitar) over the years we've been connected on Facebook, so I messaged to see whether I could bring my 14 year old to the show for their birthday. Paul quickly got back to me to advise that the show was RP18, so I was welcome to bring them... and, how many tickets would I like? He didn't need to do that, it was a characteristically thoughtful gesture from one of NZ music's true gentlemen, and it ensured that my two youngest got to experience Devilskin as their first ever concert.

Thom and Saul could barely contain their excitement as we joined the long line of black-clad disciples, queuing up to pledge their devotion to these almighty gods of rock. Wristbands securely in place, we made our way into the venue, my boys staring at everything around them in wide-eyed awe.

We didn't have long to wait before the house lights dimmed, and East York hit the stage. For a band that hasn't existed for particularly long, East York are slick, polished, tight, and professional. Vocalist Tarquin Keys has a rich, strong voice, and charisma oozing from every pore. Daz Coppins (guitar) is the quintessential 'Human Energizer Bunny', barely standing still for more than a microsecond, obviously having the time of his life, engaging enthusiastically with the audience. The powerhouse rhythm section of Joel Coppins (bass) and Joe Brownless (drums) were a force to be reckoned with, keeping the East York juggernaut barreling forward with precision and deft skill. We were even treated to a nod to the Old Gods of NZ heavy music, with a crushing cover of Shihad's You Again, arguably the best riff to ever come out of this country. Superb, and the crowd's reaction to East York's set showed that they clearly agreed.

After a brief intermission, the house lights dimmed again, only this time the crowd hubbub was more frenetic, the atmosphere charged with gleeful anticipation. No real surprise there: If you still haven't seen Devilskin live, you need to have a word with yourself. This is a band who are absolutely masterful in providing a spectacular show, and this one was no exception. Paul had hinted in an earlier message that Jennie (Skulander, vocals (how cool a surname is that, for a heavy rock vocalist?)) had a sore throat and wasn't necessarily feeling 100%. I couldn't see any signs of that, the entire night. From the stomping opener Start A Revolution, to the final note of their blistering set, Jennie was utterly in command, delivering a vocal performance that would have had Bruce Dickinson and Rob Halford shaking their heads in disbelief, hanging up their microphones for good, and going home for a cuppa and a lie down.

Nail Vincent is completely and utterly my kind of guitar player. A tone with more snarl and bite than ten thousand angry rottweilers, and riffs with more chunky heaviness than a herd of overweight rhinos. The only thing I don't like about Nail is that he has a much nicer guitar collection than me, but I still got to geek out over every beautiful six string of the night, as he wrought his guttural magic. 

Being a devoted and proud dad myself, I love that the rhythm section is Paul and his son Nic (Martin, drums). It must be a truly magical feeling for the two of them, and musically they were locked in together as tight as you like, both of them force 5 hurricanes of frantic energy. Skilled and dexterous players, highly animated, and fantastic to watch. 

New song Let Me Breathe was a real treat, a pounding riff-o-rama from a masterclass band on top of their game. Devilskin owned that stage with confidence and aplomb, a sheer colossus of a band. These four road-seasoned rock warriors may have been at this for 13-odd years now, but from what I saw at this show, they're only warming up. I can't see them letting up until they hold the entire world in the palms of their hands... much like they did with this capacity crowd.

Thom was quite smitten with Jennie (I will neither confirm nor deny whether Dad had similar thoughts), and Saul claimed it was the most fun he's ever had in his life, both boys joyfully throwing the horns up with their Dad. We left the venue with my boys grinning ear to ear, and excitedly talking over each other to relate their favourite parts of the night. I'm stoked this was their first concert, it sets a damned high bar, and I'm incredibly grateful to Devilskin for teeing that up.

Devilskin and East York are both world-class acts, in my humble opinion. Go see them as soon as you get an opportunity.

Photo Credit: Alec Huisman Photography
Devilskin Gallery
East York Gallery


About Devilskin

Devilskin formed in June 2010 in Hamilton New Zealand and features the spectacular Jennie Skulander on lead vocals. Her powerful and compelling voice and alluring stage presence sets her apart from any vocalist New Zealand has put up so far. With an unerring gift for melody, Jennie's incredible voice sweeps from whisper to roar, rips with power, drips with melody and captivates with sincerity.

Jennie previously fronted Rotorua band Slipping Tongue garnering a swathe of fans with their videos, EPs and album. Slipping Tongue also impressed many when they opened for Coheed & Cambria in 2008.

On lead guitar is Nail from the popular Waikato band Chuganaut who won the NZ Battle of the Bands and the World Battle Of The Bands in 2004. Played BDO in 2005 and opened for Iron Maiden at Mt Smart stadium in 2009. Chuganaut has played numerous national tours and released several singles, EP’s, videos and an album. Nail's searing guitar work and high energy performance bring real intensity to the live show. Nail also performs with Beckoned.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Devilskin


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