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L.A.B. - Gig Review L.A.B @ Globox Arena, Hamilton - 29/06/2024

01 Jul 2024 // A review by Peter Thornton

Matariki is a time for all to, pause, reflect and celebrate success. What better way to celebrate the Maori New Year than spending an evening with some of Aotearoa’s finest musicians.

There aren’t many gigs that I would drive for more than three hours to see, but on this occasion I didn’t think twice.

The chance to experience L.A.B at a sold-out Globox Arena in Claudelands, Hamilton was too good to miss.

On a fine and cold Matariki evening – with a sky of a thousand stars above – my wife and I made the journey south from Auckland. It was a concert that was a fitting way to celebrate the Maori New Year.

Matariki is a time for all to reflect and celebrate success. With L.A.B the headline act, supported by Stan Walker and Corrella, this was an important night for music in Aotearoa.

The Bay of Plenty-based five piece are fresh off releasing their latest work-of-art, L.A.B VI. Seeing the lads bring it to life in an almost two-hour set was a mesmerising experience.

As the crowd of around 6,000 packed into Globox, the air was thick and the anticipation for the main event was building.

When frontman Joel Shadbolt opened with a pulsating guitar solo, L.A.B were straight into their work. They unleashed their second song of the night, the country acoustic Under the Sun, they had the place in full voice.

Shadbolt’s dad was a respected country musician in the local scene. Sadly, he never got to see his boy play in L.A.B. But man, he would be proud to see what his son and this band have become. The country tune resonates, and every word was sung back in harmony.

Over the past few years, L.A.B have confirmed their place as one of Aotearoa’s finest live acts. They are polished and tight and deliver a sound that is entirely their own.

There is an undeniable quality right across the group. From Shadbolt’s (vocals and guitar) to Brad Kora (drums), Stuart Kora (keyboard and guitar), Ara Adams-Tamatea (bass) and Miharo Gregory (keyboard). They are fine musicians who love to jam together and put on a show.

The old saying ‘if you love what you’re doing, then you will never work a day in your life’ fits here. The result is genius. It is music that makes you feel good.

On this occasion they also had a quality brass section backing them and adding layers to the sound.

Ahead of the gig, Shadbolt said he loved playing winter gigs as they give the group the chance to experiment and mix things up. True to his word, the band delivered a set that kept you guessing. It was laced with dub, reggae, country and pop, and every tune was as good as the last.

They ripped through their opening section without taking a breath. With iconic tunes like Mr Reggae, In The Air and Oh No (Pt. 2) they had the place on their feet and hanging off every word.

There were cameos throughout. AJA came out to sing the beautiful I Believe. Stan Walker returned for an appearance in the encore. Gregory also had a solo vocal, and midway through the set they covered Simple Minds’ track Don’t You Forget About Me.

One of the best moments of the night was Shadbolt standing centre stage to deliver a stripped back version of Take It Away. The man has a voice that can stop a room.

Their latest album has some instant classics and others like Give Me That Feeling. It has only added to the burgeoning list of tracks they can built a setlist with.

Earlier in the night, there was a good crowd to see the opening act Corrella. The roots-reggae eight-piece band from Auckland’s North Shore have a good following across the motu.

Lead singer Pipiwharauroa Campbell warmed up the locals. They served up some of their best-known hits like Blue Eyed Maori and Chur Maori set the scene for a great night.

And the momentum only built from there.

Stan Walker, now clear of his serious health issues, reminded everyone just how good his voice is. The former Australian Idol winner produced a set that was a seamless blend of his biggest hits and Te Ao Maori anthems.

One minute he was belting out Take it Easy, the next Maori Ki Te Ao and both were met with the same reception and love.

On this special occasion, it was moving to see the mana in Maori music on full display.

Walker has always had an abundance of personality. He bantered with the crowd throughout in only a way that he can. Coming back to Hamilton he explained was somewhat of a homecoming.

“I used to go to Fairfield Intermediate and Hamilton Boys just down the road,” he said.

“Before I got kicked out and it was time to go and live with Aunty,” he says with his trademark laugh.

The night finished in fitting fashion with Why Oh Why before Shadbolt brought that unmissable riff of Cassanova. The catchy pop number helped bring the night to an end.

As the crowd poured out of the arena into a foggy Hamilton night my feet were sore, my ears were ringing, and my heart was full.

It was a gig that will live long in the memory. This same line-up is playing all over Aotearoa this summer in Whangarei, New Plymouth and Taupo. Do yourself a favour, check out this series of concerts for yourself.

It’s a show that will make you proud to be a New Zealander and celebrate the talent this county has to offer.

Photo Credit: Brad Miller / Islay Imagery
L.A.B Photo Gallery
Stan Walker Photo Gallery
Corrella Photo Gallery


About L.A.B.

The pedigree and musicianship of L.A.B. is undeniable.

L.A.B. was founded by the legendary Kora brothers Brad (drums) and Stu (guitar, keys) and quickly engaged the extraordinary talent of Joel Shadbolt on lead vocals & guitar and Ara Adams-Tamatea from the mighty Katchafire on bass.

The L.A.B. sound is one which has seen them quickly become a fan favourite on the New Zealand live circuit – trademark Kora grooves combining with Adams-Tamatea’s reggae/dub experience, and Shadbolt’s blues roots to create a sound entirely their own. Each member brings their own individual styles to the table, and the result is an eclectic mix of reggae, electronic, blues, funk, and reggae, even heading into country at points.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for L.A.B.


Year: 2024
Type: Album
L.A.B In Dub
Year: 2022
Type: Album
L.A.B. V
Year: 2021
Type: Album
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Year: 2019
Type: Album
Year: 2018
Type: Album
Year: 2017
Type: Album

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