It was a night of pure rock and roll and country at the Wine Cellar last night as Christchurch troubadours Adam Hattaway & The Haunters arrived in town for the Auckland date of their Wasting Our Time tour.
Led by frontman Adam Hattaway on vocals, harmonica and guitar, the Haunters have perfected an old school classic style of Rolling Stones-esque rock and roll over the last few years, developing a popular following within the indie scene with albums such as their latest, 2019’s Crying Lessons.
Having missed out on performing at the Others Way in September, this was Auckland’s chance to see some down and dirty bar music straight out of the South Island, although first up was local musician Edward Castelow playing a solo set.
Edward Castelow began Dictaphone Blues as a bedroom project in 2006 and in many respects, this solo set was a return to the roots of the project. It was an intimate affair to kick off proceedings with the audience filtering in as Castelow serenaded people with his low-key country-tinged ballads.
Although it was short but sweet, this set did what it was supposed to do, appearing as a warm welcoming hug with Castelow’s smooth mellow vocals floating nicely over his delicate finger picking guitar.
Following Castelow, was Kendall Elise and her band the Belgraves. Elise’s set had a Grand Ole Opry vibe with her out in front on guitar and occasional tambourine with her band providing more than adequate backing.
This was good old-fashioned country folk and worked a treat in the intimate setting of the Wine Cellar, a venue whose meat and two veg is this style of music. Although there was time for a really cool Suzi Quatro cover that was both unexpected and fantastically pulled off.
With the audience now well and truly warmed up it was then time for Adam and his Haunters. However, first up it was just Adam alone with a Fender Strat and harmonica for the first number.
Right from the get go Hattaway was showing off his vocal prowess moving with ease between his lower husky register to his higher falsetto register. He was joined by his band, the Haunters half way through track one and then we were transported to Nashville.
I call this troubadour music because that is what it is. This is a moulding of country and rock and roll, music for the road, music that has truly been tested over decades in bars and taverns around the world.
The band was tight throughout with their twangy guitars and solid rhythms locking in perfectly and allowing Hattaway to shine out front on vocals, steering the ship if you will. However, I will say Hattaway can shred like the best of them on guitar and there were plenty of moments of flare throughout with Hattaway showing off his chops at every opportunity.
Obviously, they are known for their rocking up tempo numbers, but Hattaway shone vocally on the slower more bluesy numbers also. Here he managed to show off his more soulful side and was able to project a more tender performance, much to the audience’s appreciation. These moments split up the rockier numbers and offered a nice change of pace throughout the set.
Based on this performance, Adam Hattaway & The Haunters should be way bigger than they are. This is music that is more or less in vogue right now and Canterbury is producing many great musicians within the folk, country and rock and roll sphere.
For mine, as a performer, Hattaway himself is as good as Marlon Williams, something I don’t say lightly, and heading into 2021 I will be looking for Hattaway and his band to go on to greater things as boy oh boy do they deserve it.