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Going Global Review: Day 1 Showcase

02 Sep 2023 // A review by roger.bowie

The Going Global Music Summit brings together a host of international music industry folk and they talk about the industry. It’s organized by IMNZ (Independent Music NZ) and the NZ Music Commission. And to remind visitors and locals alike, that New Zealand has great music of our own, there are two nights of showcases in the Whammy Bar labyrinth in K Road. Going local, is more appropriate, and the great reveal is in the open doors off dank underground corridors which link the three venues, Whammy, Wine Cellar and The Back Room (or is it the front?). Ah, so that’s what this place is really all about.

Ok, so the gig goes like this, Twelve 20-minute sets, impeccably timed, which means the artists get 3 or 4 songs and we get a great taste of what is new and vibrant about the local music scene. But if you want to see it all, you need to cut that 20 minutes back a bit to manage the to-ing and fro-ing and the hustle and bustle of heaving crowds surging inwards and out and grabbing a drink and making friends. It’s a speed date, that’s what it is, but it saves a lot of time and effort to get to see people live on their own.

Ch! Nonso is up first in the Wine Cellar, it’s African music, and immediately I am transported back in time when I would frequent the African beer halls in the 80's and shimmer and sway to the rhythms of Africa with maybe 20 musicians on stage at the same time playing different sequences and scales which miraculously come together in a pulsation of polyrhythm. But this is 2023 in Auckland and the Wine Cellar stage struggles to handle 6 musicians, yet the sound is unmistakable, and Nigerian born Nonso with his Afro mop and his Afro-Kiwi band put on a compelling show. Arena soul voice supported by Afro-beat. Two saxes and a trumpet provide the wall, and a manic effort on bongos obviates the need for drums. This is fun, funky and fresh, and we thank our lucky stars that Africa has come to us. The high life is the highlight.

Off to Whammy where the man who loves public transport is joining his band who stand rigidly in attention if not uniform, like toy lift operators, and Anthonie Tonnon, looking like a younger version of Delaney Davidson, is here to provide Entertainment. I saw Anthonie, I think in a supporting role, a few years back, and was only modestly impressed, but that was then, and this is now, and the Taite Music Award winner from last year is very impressive with his version of soaring synth 90's Brit-pop. Juggling a beer, a notepad and spectacle I clap silently without my Two Free Hands. You know that sound, no less reverent or appreciative. I also sing in mute. But this is already a great night. 

Scurry off to the Back Room (which seems like the front), where Tom Lark is standing to my left as I face the stage, with long hair flowing, not unlike Duane Betts, and that is the promise of the opening song, a little touch of southern rock, before the set subtly shifts in favour of a little folky rock tinged with psychedelia. Tom Lark is the stage name for Shannon Fowler, a refugee from Christchurch who hangs around in his little studio off K Road. It’s been 7 years since he last released under this moniker and his new album Brave Star was nominated for a Silver Scroll. I bought the album. Say no more? No more to be said.

Mel Parsons is sitting down in the Wine cellar with her acoustic guitar so you wouldn’t know she was there, except you can hear that strong sonorous voice overpowering the chatter as she runs through her four-song set. It might be a new song to open with, then her most successful Failure, some chat about a new single, maybe the song we heard in Gore, but that isn’t the one, it’s Carry On and so I must. One thing about Mel Parsons, she’s impeccably consistent. The other thing she is, of course, is consistently impeccable. 

PARK RD are parked up in Whammy and ready to rock. A young band formed in high school way out west, these guys are pure indie with a touch of surf. The lead singer is very tall. The guitar player shreds very nicely. The other guitarist is called Leo who has a new haircut. Can you Feel it Now. I’m sure one of the songs is the new single Secrets and they Did It Anyway and Park Road impressed the one person in the audience who is older than me. I am also easily impressed by the very best.

Clementine Valentine used to be Purple Pilgrims and now they aren’t. They are simply the two sisters using their real names playing their dreamy pop synth with folklore intent and they have a sensational new album, The Coin that Broke the Fountain Floor with Matt Chamberlain on drums, and streaming on Qobuz so I have it on demand and in the Back Room they deliver in spades.

Six acts in a row, all five star, I’m already exhausted.

Except the thieves with mullets in the summer are out and about again. I saw Summer Thieves at the Tuning Fork 3 years ago and was mightily impressed. I reckoned the future of live music in NZ was in good hands. Well, the Summer Thieves, I must tell you, have got better. Funk and reggae and snarly vocals and sensational guitar which brings a taste of Santana, and oh so, oh so tight, Summer Thieves have smashed the ball way out. Saturday Night, Funny How The Night Works and even a cover, was it Creep? I’m beyond impressed and can’t take any more…but the one hot tip I got during the night was the must-see D.C. Maxwell.

And so, I stay for one more gig, and met the charming young man who transforms and explodes into gyrating Jon Spencer as he personifies the dark characters he conjures up in his compelling songs about bank robbery, murder on the stage, out stealing horses and other songs of bitterness and regret. He’s a former punk gone country, and we know what happened to the last artist who trod that path, went and became Nick Cave, that’s who, and night D.C. Maxwell is like Cave on steroids. He has a new album out. I bought that one too, as I clambered up the stairs to avoid pumpkin time.

8 acts from 12, is all I can sanely achieve, but that’s a pass, and there’s another night to come….

Going Global, acting local, a great night out in the cellars.

 

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