13 Jun 2024

Remember Me? | Join | Recover
Click here to sign in via social networking
  • Articles »
  • Reviews »
  • Turkey The Bird - Gig Review: Turkey The Bird @ The Ministry of Folk, Auckland - 27/05/2023

Turkey The Bird - Gig Review: Turkey The Bird @ The Ministry of Folk, Auckland - 27/05/2023

27 May 2023 // A review by Kev Rowland

Back up to Auckland Guide Centre in Mount Eden tonight for my second consecutive gig (Sol suggested it was a turkey sandwich as I am at Vader tomorrow) to see Taranaki’s finest, Turkey The Bird at The Ministry of Folk. Before that we of course had Hoop, who are Al Baxter (vocals, guitar, harmonica, banjo, mandolin), Nick Edgar (vocals, guitar, ukulele, flute, harmonica), Emily Allen (violin, viola), Glenn Coldham (bass) while tonight Gary Hunt was filling in for drummer Rusty Knox.  

They kicked off with Pohutukawa, which featured Al on lead vocals, a really nice start to the night with both Al and Nick on guitars and some wonderful violin, plenty of luscious lines and melodies to lift us away. Caution to the Wind allowed the band to show a more commercial take on their folk style, with Nick switching to flute and Al adding a harmonica to his set up. Their music is always light with plenty of space, yet also full of layers which makes for a very pleasant listening experience indeed. The last time I saw them play was when they supported T-Bone and I had forgotten just how much I enjoyed them.

We were getting a lot of new songs tonight, and next we had Nick’s lockdown song, Take Me To A Time, which saw him on lead vocals and back on guitar. Having two songwriters and singers in any band is always an advantage, as it ensures the band does not run out of material and there is also plenty of variety, which makes for a nice balanced set. It also means they are both able to take lead when they wish, but are also strong harmony singers, which adds another dimension when they utilise that aspect. This is another where Emily provides a wonderful melody over the top, and while not as flashy as some (step forward Pascal Roggen from Albi & The Wolves, the violin player’s violin player), she has a wonderful sense of timing and presence. In some ways, Glenn and Gary stay very much in the background, but it is their foundation which allows everything else to be built as they keep everything solid while never pushing themselves forward to the detriment of others.

Al said that song always reminded him of Van Morrison, and I can certainly see where the reference comes from, although to my ears that was even more the case on next song Sunshine. With two songwriters they switch it up in the set, and most of this material was new to me, even though I have seen them three times previously. Al now gave us a medieval folk song which include a milk white steed in a lead role, even though it was about trickle down economics.

It started with Al solo, some delicate percussion and flute, and then we were into something which felt as if it could have come right from the pen of Chris Leslie. This is a great story song, full of the tradition, yet modern at the same time. Rabbit Hole saw Al kick things off with an electric banjo, which is the first time I have ever come across one, which allows him to change the output and is certainly a little different. Although one might expect this to mean they were moving more into bluegrass we instead stayed firmly in their modern folk, and Emily again taking a deserved lead. Call Me Home saw Nick back on lead vocals, slowing it down somewhat, almost in a Harry Nilsson or Harry Chapin style. They ended their set with Thank You, another gentle groove with a sudden stop when Nick sings the line “listen to the silence”. Another nice set and I look forward to seeing them again soon. 

Tonight was the penultimate gig of a 27-date tour for Turkey The Bird, and I have been looking forward to seeing them again since I caught them at Pah Homestead earlier this year as they are a trio who always have fun onstage, are all multi-instrumentalists, but most importantly have great songs. Their sense of humour comes through on their album titles (their last being When Turkeys Fly, think about it) while their t-shirts have TTB in North American sign language as that is where most of their listeners are from (again, think about it).

Adrian Whelan (guitar, mandolin, bass, spoons), André Manella (guitar, bass, stomp box, synth), and Sol Bear Coulton (banjo, guitar, lap steel) started tonight with two acoustic guitars and banjo with the wonderful singalong Take On The World, wonderful harmonies and leopard skin suits (not sure if this is an upgrade or downgrade from the gold suits from the last tour). Molly Brown feels more like a drinking song, with Adrian now on mandolin. With Adrian back on acoustic and André we had the first cover of the night, The Waterboys’ Fisherman Blues with Adrian now on lead. One can tell just from the first few numbers just how many gigs these guys undertake as there is a togetherness which only comes from being on the road multiple weeks of the year, playing anywhere and everywhere, paying their dues. It really is an incredible commitment, and while Adrian and André are fairly active, Sol looks so relaxed he could fall asleep at any moment (but never stop playing). 

They used to tour when they had a new album out, but these days they organise a tour when they have new outfits as it is important to get the order right. We then went into the calypso of Orbit, with percussion from André – this constant instrument switching allows them to produce so many different arrangements, but always with amazing vocals and songs packed full of hooks so everyone here was having nearly as much fun as the band were. We were told to imagine we were now all French artistes living in the Twenties, with Sol on lead vocals and acoustic guitar, Adrian on electric bass and André on synth and we were into ZigZag Melody which felt more as if it had come from the Seventies with some very funky sounds indeed. 

Adrian was back on lead for the next song, Winters Past, which also saw Sol on slide for the first time tonight. This is delicate and emotional – Adrian originally started writing this when still solo, and it was only finished with the rest of the guys who elevate the number with solid bass from André, and the slide from Sol adding poignancy and additional depth. In many ways this is one of their more commercial songs, and is one which many people would love if they just made the effort to discover the band.

Sol took the lead on Cave Rave, which had some funky bass and a shaker to give it very much an island feel, and yet more bright vocal harmonies. As the song progressed we had more percussion, and Sol demonstrated he can solo on an acoustic just as well as he can on a slide. I realised I was singing along while also typing, there is something about their songs which are incredibly infectious and just so much fun. This continued with their drinking song Whiskey, which commences with wonderful harmony vocals before they ramp it up and really start belting along and finally we had people up and dancing which was wonderful to see. 

They should be recording their next album later this year, and now we had a brand new song from Sol, Stone Wall Creek, which sees them move deep into bluegrass with banjo and mandolin being very important aspects of this high-octane number which is again highly infectious and ends with a harmony shout. Next up we had their crowd participation number with Girls Just Wanna Have Fun, and everyone here certainly did. I know it was not a competition, but Team Adrian was a clear winner. You Gotta Do It Right features some superb spoon playing from Adrian (and don’t forget, TTB are the only band who sell spoons as part of their merchandise).Sol commented that having completed a nationwide tour with Adrian he could certainly say he is a very good spooner indeed, and has kept him warm on many nights. Taking it High is another with a chorus which had people up and dancing, as it is just so infectious and downright fun. 

Donna Lee is another thumper, reminiscent in some ways of Chumbawamba, with that same down to earth roots sound which demands people sing along. You're Hot has a beck and call chorus which demands the men wear very tight pants, as the falsetto is high indeed. I am sure they play this just so they can have fun every night listening to the audience strain, and is typical TTB in that it is infectious and a load of fun while Sol and Adrian provide those very high harmonies.

André started Everybody Needs a little Sunshine acapella, Sol and Adrian joined in on harmonies, and then we were off in the same format as they started the night, two acoustics and a banjo, with the same amount of energy they had been displaying all through the set, and I know I was not the only one who was sad the evening was coming to an end. They pretended to leave, we cheered and shouted, and they came back for one of their fastest and most intense numbers, Art and Design, packed full of shouts and cries and the audience clapped along one last time. 

Yet another great evening was had by all at The Ministry of Folk, who certainly put on some great gigs so check them out on Facebook. There is no excuse for not catching Hoop if you live in Auckland, while Turkey The Bird are a band who tour Aotearoa every year, and if you can’t see them live then grab their albums!


Photo credit: Kev Rowland 


About Turkey The Bird

Turkey The Bird is New Zealand's answer to 'Simon & Garfunkel' if '&' was a musician too.
Catchy folk songs with stunning rich melodies and effortless smooth lyrics. Songs that tell uplifting stories about love and life.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Turkey The Bird


When Turkeys Fly
Year: 2022
Type: Album
Turkey The Bird
Year: 2021
Type: Album

Other Reviews By Kev Rowland

Gig Review: Crushfest @ The Tuning Fork, Auckland - 07/07/2023
07 Jul 2023 // by Kev Rowland
So it was down to Tuning Fork for the first night of the second Crushfest festival. Tonight was going to be Wellington and Auckland bands, and then some of the same will be playing at the second night in Wellington next month.
Rain - Single Review: Love and War
15 Jun 2023 // by Kev Rowland
It has been quite a while since I last heard from Wellington-based singer songwriter Cathy Elizabeth, and back then Rain was seen solely as a studio project with Cathy being accompanied by Thomas Te Taite, who provided all the instrumentation including digital drums. Now they are a full band who have been performing live, and it is the first time they have recorded as such, with Thomas now, just providing acoustic guitar (plus engineering and producing etc.
Lost Vessels - Single Review: All This Time
01 Jun 2023 // by Kev Rowland
I must admit I was not that impressed when I first saw Lost Vessels play at Crushfest, something they later admitted to me was the worst gig of their career, but since then they have improved in leaps and bounds. This has been noticed by others on the Auckland circuit as they are getting more opportunities with better support slots, and I was not at all surprised when they won the Ding Dong Lounge Battle Of The Bands in November last year.
Unwanted Subject - Single Review: Sons of Savages
28 May 2023 // by Kev Rowland
I have caught Unwanted Subject in concert a few times over the last couple of years, and while they have been getting better each time I have seen them, I must admit that nothing prepared me for this, which right from the off is a monster. I have never heard them quite this is aggressive, nor as polished, and this multi-sectioned single sounds almost like a different band as they have pushed their metal roots to the max in this metalcore beast which sees them mixing and blending different genres to create something quite special.
Gig Review: Stray Dogs @ AUX, Auckland - 26/05/2023
28 May 2023 // by Kev Rowland
So it was back to Ding Dong Lounge on a Friday night for one of their infamous Emo nights, which tonight was a three-band bill with Stray Dogs having an extended set, supported by Altaea and then up first we had Blindr, a band new to me. Blindr are a quartet featuring Bill Caldwell (vocals, guitar), Blake Woodfield (lead guitar), Jack Power (bass), and Charlie McCracken (drums).
This Silent Divide - Single Review: Beautiful Creature
25 May 2023 // by Kev Rowland
Here we have the latest single from Wellington-based melodic hard rock quartet This Silent Divide, entitled Beautiful Creature. I really enjoyed their Tall Stories EP, and they played a great gig at Dead Witch towards the end of last year, and this would have been recorded at about the same time.
Gig Review: Emily Rice @ Your Local Coffee Roasters, Pukekohe - 24/05/2023
24 May 2023 // by Kev Rowland
Earlier this week I had a message from Emily Rice asking me if I lived in South Auckland. When I responded I did, she asked if I would be interested in coming along to an event she was putting on in a coffee shop in Pukekohe to celebrate the release of her new single, Warenoa.
Drop Off Point - EP Review: Bridge City Crew
21 May 2023 // by Kev Rowland
Back in 1991, bassist Jorge 'Hoya Roc' Guerra took over from the legend that is Roger Minet in the Agnostic Front side-project Madball, since when he has been a constant alongside Freddy Cricien. He now has a new claim to fame, providing a shoutout to his favourite Kiwi band at the beginning of this EP.
View All Articles By Kev Rowland

NZ Top 10 Singles

    Tommy Richman
    Sabrina Carpenter
    Billie Eilish
    Post Malone feat. Morgan Wallen
    Kendrick Lamar
    Billie Eilish
    Benson Boone
View the Full NZ Top 40...
muzic.net.nz Logo
100% New Zealand Music
All content on this website is copyright to muzic.net.nz and other respective rights holders. Redistribution of any material presented here without permission is prohibited.
Report a ProblemReport A Problem