It felt like Tablefox were 'Coming Home' last Friday night as they delivered their fusion of 80s and pub rock to their fans at the excellent Anthology K Road last night with support from The Solomon Cole Band.
I first saw Tablefox when I reviewed Big Country back in March last year at the Powerstation. I really liked their sound and they clearly had a following after releasing their debut album Objects back in 2015. After that show, it seemed either I was stalking them or them me, but since then I’ve seen them supporting City Calm Down and James, leading us to their homecoming of sorts as the main headliner of the night.
But before they set the stage alight, The Solomon Cole Band kicked off proceedings with their broody blues, trance and swamp rock. I have to confess I hadn’t heard them live before and was just a little sad to only see two of the members on stage. That said Ely Xir (just so you know I didn’t make this name up - I got it off their website) and Solomon Cole did the band proud.
As the growing audience moved closer to the stage, a good sprinkling of tracks off their 2016 debut album Bruises and upcoming release A Little South of Heaven were all delivered with style. The sound of The Solomon Cole Band is dark, raw and smells of the Deep South but with thoughtful lyrics and melody. With only a guitar and their voices to fill the stage, the duo delivered a short set that was worthy of far more ears to listen to. I look forward to seeing the band’s full complement in their next outing.
80s pop, mixed with pub rock, an unashamed radio-friendly melody and singalong choruses. What more do you want on a chilly Friday night with friends and fans? Nothing really.
A short break followed giving Tablefox time to set up, check out their gear and then make their entrance onto the red-lit stage. They kicked off with You and I Will Find Away A Way Home, which to me was a mixture of the Cribbs' guitars and early Midnight Oils Peter Garret vocals. It was a nice way to get the nearly full house warmed up and settled into the groove of what TableFox is about. 80s pop, mixed with pub rock, an unashamed radio-friendly melody and singalong choruses. What more do you want on a chilly Friday night with friends and fans? Nothing really.
Maybe this was what was on frontman Clinton Bell's mind when he launched into what I thought should have been at the back end of the set with Something Better. A smart move actually because this got the crowd going and lifted the tempo and the rest of the night onto the next level. This was a great track and an easy song to sing along to, which for me is never an easy task.
On a slightly grungier cowboy note, the band slipped into Right or Wrong, which gave Matt Carson the ability to showcase his skills on lead guitar. How many guitars do you need?! My partner asked me as Clinton picked up his acoustic and made it four. As many as you like I said. And this is where the sound of TableFox shines. In a live setting, they create a lovely wall of sound that washes over you and takes you along for the ride. It also gives the opportunity to put another layer of melody on top and Matt delivered this in spades.
Clinton then welcomed the crowd and thanked them for coming out, while also acknowledging the role they have played over the past year as a support act for a number of international but like-minded bands. Much of which, I hope, has put them top of mind with more Kiwis than they would have had before.
Known to do the odd cover or two, the band then launched into The Smiths' classic There Is A Light That Never Goes Out. A nice nod to one of their many influencers and highlighting the jangly guitar sound they love so much.
This was also captured nicely in the Modern English sounding vocals of Cigarette Glow and also in Nothing Ever Changes that has strong hints of Lloyd Cole and the Commotions running through it.
It’s worth mentioning how Anthology K Road contributed to the live sound of TableFox as well. I was talking to Craig the owner and said how impressed I was with the sound and it seems they have spent quite a bit of time and money to get it right. I believe they have and I suspect that we will see more bands hitting this brilliant hidden gem on K Road in the months and hopefully years to come.
This gig wasn’t only a chance to look back on the songs Tablefox had recorded, but a chance to air some of the upcoming tracks from their new album planned for release in early 2020.
It is always with some trepidation for the band (and I suspect) the punters hoping they will like the new songs. Well, there wasn’t any need for anyone to be worried. The new songs slotted well in the overall set and included Sunken Under the Ground, Life and my fav Extraordinary Gift (Coming Home) that sounded a little tip of the cap to UK band James and gave everyone a sneak peek on what to look forward to.
Sensing the end was nigh, the banger Hold Fire was launched into and had the whole place singing along. An oldie but a goody, the band slipped in the fav rifts of classic tracks from other well-known 70s and 80s songs. On this occasion, Lou Reed/The Velvet Underground had White Light White Heat and Led Zeppelin’s Misty Mountain Hop thrown in. Always a punters’ pleaser.
Then it was left to say goodbye with the new track Always Always closing off the set. Again a nice fresh single and a gutsy close to being honest. Well, it would have been if it was actually the end. With some yelling and without the traditional leaving and coming back to the stage, the band played their last song and cover of the night Heroes by David Bowie. Just a great song and they did it and the legend proud - an excellent way to finish off the night.
Tablefox is a great example of passionate people living their dream while also holding down day jobs and I think they are one of the best around, with plenty more in the tank to come. This NZ band deserves your attention!