18 Jun 2024
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SJD - Gig Review: SJD w/ Beachware @ Hollywood Avondale, Auckland - 30/06/2023

01 Jul 2023 // A review by Lou Clement

Sean James Donnelly (SJD) brought his Sweetheart tour to Tamaki Makaurau and presented his latest release, his ninth album, Sweetheart.

SJD is low-key specialist artist: a musician, songwriter and producer who, through his compositions, seems to make music which takes life (gently) by the horns and wrestles with it. His art, that is, making music and performing has a purpose: "[it's] about trying to be a good human and what that means in the weird fucked-up pseudo sci-fi world that we live in".

Sweetheart, released on white vinyl, with a seagull image on its cover, is in part SJD’s creative homage to the effects of lockdown and release. But it’s not just about the effects of staying indoors, isolated and often facing the unknown on a daily basis but also "about finding one’s way outside again and rediscovering the beauty of this place and the people who live in it.". The tour celebrated the new album, which he had described as 'a game of two halves' with synth-pop dominating side one, while side two takes more of a singer-songwriter approach.

A four-date nationwide tour brought fans in their truckload to Avondale’s gem, the Hollywood. On a stormy, wintry evening, I was ready for the sweetness and all the heart. Supporting this tremendous night of music was Beachware. They are self-described as experimental pop-rock. Their debut album was released this year and titled It’s Only Time. I’m on board for the influences of light hearted American power pop. I enjoyed the ever so slightly thrilling dives into post rock, with achingly lovely guitar solos.

Beachware bring a much-needed energy to live music, with a seriously charismatic line up, they really played into the audience. They have a breezy and whimsical musical style, perfectly hummable and with the occasional punkish snarl.

It was SJD's church though and we an electric night of music included the new and old as well as what SJD called a self-indulgent synth solo. I’d call it the theme tune for an unsettled robot. It was a performance marked by its authenticity. SJD really wanted to commune. We were given a sampling off both sides of the synth and simpler more direct compositions, live with a full band.

Highlights for me were Helensville and You Are The Movement. The latter was a track from the latest album. The sounds of the evening seemed to rise through a crescendo, although interspersed with slower and more doleful tracks. Waterhole felt almost choir-like. There’s a vulnerability to SJDs voice and feels free to use it to great effect. It was uplifting, complex and dynamic evening of music.


Photo Credit: Taiga Semori

Beachware Photo Gallery
SJD Photo Gallery

 

About SJD

Sean Donnelly is an award-winning musician/composer currently residing in Dunedin under the Mozart Fellowship at Otago University.

Sean Donnelly has released eight albums under the nom-de-plume SJD since 1998, with many nominated for bNets, Aotearoa Music Awards, the Taite Prize and the APRA Silver Scroll - some winning too! While primarily a solo project SJD has had a long history of collaborating with James Duncan, Sandy Mill, and Chris 'O Connor.

A celebrated producer as well, Sean has worked with Don McGlashan on 2006’s Warm Hand, and 2009’s Marvellous Year. In 2011, Sean joined the Pajama Club, with Neil Finn, Sharon Finn, and Alana Skyring. He produced their eponymous debut and toured with the group Aotearoa, Australia, and the United States of America.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for SJD

Releases

Sweetheart
Year: 2022
Type: Album
Saint John Divine
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Elastic Wasteland
Year: 2012
Type: Album
Dayglo Spectres
Year: 2008
Type: Album
Songs From A Dictaphone
Year: 2007
Type: Album
Southern Lights Pic n Mix Version
Year: 2005
Type: Album
Southern Lights
Year: 2004
Type: Album
Lost Soul Music
Year: 2001
Type: Album
3
Year: 1999
Type: EP

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