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Tom Lark - Gig Review: Tom Lark @ Whammy Bar, Auckland - 5/08/2023

07 Aug 2023 // A review by Lou Clement
Tom Lark recently brought his Brave Star tour to Tamaki Makarau along with his band and support from K M T P. Lark has been absent from both touring and releasing music for a number of years. However, he brought a loyal fan base to a packed Whammy Bar on a Saturday night, celebrating the release of his debut album.

Tom Lark is the songwriting alter-ego Shannon Matthew VanyaHe released his first EP back in 2011 but this new album has altogether a different feel. Lark has described it as having spaghetti Western themes and influenced by John Lennon. I can see both influences for sure. I enjoyed his straightforward and subtle vocal delivery and the clever compositions.

First up was K M T P whose voice at times reminded me of early Damon Albarn. His music has that catchy indie vibe it was good to see the songs performed solo and I’d really enjoy some of them with a full band. K M T P has recently released a new single Walk Out To Space, which has been described by Flying Nun records as having lyrics that hit you in the gut. It’s a vulnerable place to be, up on stage, solo, and K M T P brought his blend of guitar fuzz and soft vocals to deliver a slice of a much anticipated al U.K. of new contemporary music and delighted the audience. His debut album With Love, K M T P is due to be released soon and will be available on Bandcamp.

If I had a lasso, I would have wielded it. Tom Lark and band took to the stage with the confidence of a band who’d regularly been touring, rather than one that is on a new outing and it's only the second date of the tour. Highlights of the evening were Brave Star and Washout. Lark mentioned that the nine-track album was written during the solitude that lockdown brought. There’s a poetry to writing songs about an imaginary cowboy and his adventures, during those lost years. I’m not exactly sure if that is what Lark was going for that’s just my take.

I enjoyed the spacey-psychedelic track Move On. The music felt poignant - I can’t quite put my finger on why exactly and hopefully there is more to come from the talent that is Tom Lark. The Brave Star tour continues in Wellington on 25 August.

Photo Credit: Allan Kilgour, taken at The Jam Factory in Tauranga on 4 August
View the Tom Lark Tauranga Gallery here


About Tom Lark

Tom Lark is the original musical project of Shannon Fowler, who also releases material under the Shannon Matthew Vanya pseudonym. Where SMV allows for pop indulgence, Tom Lark is an outlet for the artist’s indie sensibilities. Having released two eponymous Tom Lark EPs in 2011 and 2015 respectively, Fowler set the project aside for a period but has returned to his first love, which turns out to be making sunburnt psychedelic folk fit for sensitive cowboys to meander and philosophise to.

Fowler was born in Otautahi and relocated to Tamaki Makaurau in 2012, after a stint recording in Berlin. He works from his Okie Dokie Studio, situated just off Karangahape Road. There he has produced, co-written and engineered tracks with a delightful collection of collaborators, including Merk, Randa, A.C. Freezy, Belladonna, The Fuzzy Robes, Georgia Lines, and the mysterious Rick Shrimp.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Tom Lark


Brave Star
Year: 2023
Type: Album
Tom Lark
Year: 2015
Type: EP
Tom Lark
Year: 2011
Type: EP

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