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Gig Review: The Titans Tour @ 12 Bar, Christchurch - 18/05/2023

21 May 2023 // A review by Peter K Malthus

12 Bar is one of many venues that Christchurch is fortunate to have, proud and passionate supporters of the local music scene. Upon entering its warmth from a slightly damp and cold evening, I found a well-stocked merch table, and had a nice catch up with a familiar face as I treated myself to bit of the selection of home-town heroes, Pieces Of Molly. I'd had an opportunity to speak with Jason Peters of Waxstar Touring, who'd let me know that the tour was rotating headliners, and our local lads would be taking top spot tonight.

Having ensconced myself in a booth near the front, I was preparing myself for taking notes on a night of sonic excellence, when a ball of black-clad energy exploded into the seat opposite me with a "do-ya-mind-if-I-sit-here?". This turned out to be 18 year old Daniel, only recently 18, and this was his third gig, he told me proudly. He was bursting with enthusiasm, and showed me both his new Pull Down The Sun and Pieces of Molly shirts, and was back on his feet the moment Claemus hit the stage.

Claemus are from Wellington, and are a band determined to push music beyond conventional limitations.  Beginning from shared interests in classic rock, Avant Garde, and death metal, this three piece paints beautiful soundscapes enhanced by ethereal vocal melodies and harmonies. Clad in comfy leisure suits, the two guitarist/vocalists often seemed as transported by their musical craftsmanship as the crowd, closed eyes and beatific smiles. A phenomenally precise drummer ensured that the music was just as hard-hitting as it was lush and deeply textured. New song "Decline" was a personal favourite, and Daniel also obviously enjoyed what he saw. He sat down again long enough to show me he'd just been to grab a Claemus t-shirt, too.

Next it was the turn of Whanganui-based Pull Down The Sun, another two-guitar attack that had me geeking out over superbly executed riffery. Quite an overall mood change, though. Atmospherically dark and brooding by comparison, the stage becoming more a hotbed of powerful and aggressive energy. Drawing deep on the legends of the ancients of Aotearoa, Pull Down The Sun create chill-inducing and heart-stopping brilliance on tracks such as "Of Valleys & Mountains" and the brand-new "Of River & Glaciers". They're also quite capable of lighter moments, donning masks made from life-sized print outs of the face of an absent friend, prior to playing an instrumental piece... apparently dramatically reducing their ability to see.

The third of these three NZ rock titans then prepared to blow us all away. If Claemus were a titanic mountain with lush green slopes, a peaceful snow-capped peak with an unblemished view of the night-time sky, and Pull Down The Sun were a colossal granite-covered seething volcano, then Pieces Of Molly were an outraged, massive fire-breathing dragon hovering between the two. Roaring with leather and denim clad fury, heart pumping with NWOBHM fervour, this fierce winged serpent bore down on the crowd in an explosion of rock n roll attitude. Consummate frontman Ewen Glasgow threw absolutely all of himself into every single note of every vocal line and lead guitar solo, more than ably backed by a trio of seasoned rock warriors creating seismic rumblings of almost disturbing proportions.

The whole night almost seemed over before it had begun, such was the power of this triumvirate of Titanitude to transport and transcend. I got to have another good chat with Daniel before he left with his large haul of merch, and he agreed: NZ's heavy music scene is in extremely good hands. 

Photo Credit: Alec Huisman
Pieces of Molly Gallery
Claemus Gallery

Pull Down The Sun Gallery


Other Reviews By Peter K Malthus

Yaya and the Snakes - Album Review: The Whole Shebang
26 May 2023 // by Peter K Malthus
Yaya and the Snakes first caught my attention back in 2020, when they released the single I Lost My Kumara On The Side Of The Road. Very much my kind of thing, a quintessentially Kiwi tale, a gut-wrenching tale of tuber tragedy.
Dictaphone Blues - EP Review: Greetings From Glen Eden
26 May 2023 // by Peter K Malthus
This was a real treat, to get to listen to and review the latest release from Dictaphone Blues. Greetings From Glen Eden (and if you click on that handy-dandy link right there, you'll be whisked off to a magical portal where you can pay a mere NZ$5 for the entire EP!
Boom! Boom! Deluxe! - Single/Video Review: Leopard Print
16 May 2023 // by Peter K Malthus
Sassy, saucy, spunky, style, spark, and swagger. My mind filled with all of those "S" words upon watching and listening to Leopard Print, the new single/video from Boom!
James Kohler - Single Review: Rhea
15 May 2023 // by Peter K Malthus
Rhea is the latest single from Auckland-based James Kohler, a seasoned practitioner of "prog-pop/indie psychedelia". Rhea tells the story of the eponymous protagonist's life working in a department store, but it isn't an especially positive story.
Gig Review: Devilskin @ Ngaio Marsh Theatre, Christchurch - 12/05/2023
14 May 2023 // 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.
Gig Review: Kaylee Bell @ James Hay Theatre, Christchurch - 7/05/2023
09 May 2023 // by Peter K Malthus
I had a fantastic seat for this show, smack bang in the middle and a few rows back from the front. Absolutely perfect spot for viewing and listening.
Gig Review: Bleeders @ The Embankment Tavern, Christchurch - 6/05/2023
09 May 2023 // by Peter K Malthus
I'm glad I arrived as early as I did, to secure a good spot to plonk myself to watch the show, as the place filled up pretty fast. The Embankment Tavern's owner, Martin Mantell, is a huge fan and staunch supporter of live music, and kudos are due to him for developing The Embankment into such a popular venue, hosting some fantastic shows.
Bad Llamas - Single Review: Can't Take You Anywhere
05 May 2023 // by Peter K Malthus
Bad Llamas are based in my hometown of Christchurch, so I have encountered their name before, however this was my first time listening to their self-described "Indie/Pop/Rock" sound.As Can't Take You Anywhere opens, it would be easy to be fooled into thinking this will unfold into a sweetly pretty pop song, and stay around about there.
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