The nine-piece band in dark suits or dresses was led by Peter McMillan (vocals), Clare Martin and Amy Skeates (vocals), Nigel Pizzini (rhythm guitar, vocals), Nick Jones (violin), Pete Snow (lead guitar and balalaika), Ben Fernandez (keyboards), Rian Kannemeyer (bass, vocals) and Mike Beck on drums.
The seats on the ground and first level of the Chamber was filled by more than three hundred people. Many of whom attended a similar commemorative concert that was held by Imperfect Offering last year at the Q Theatre, including yours truly.
After the first few songs, it was very clear that the band had grown not only in confidence but musically as well. Dance Me To The End Of Love and The Future were good choices to start the concert with some vigour.
Like it or not, frontman McMillan will always be compared to Cohen in every possible way. That is the understandable curse of being a tribute band. But, that did not stop McMillan from giving his best while retaining a sense of respect and reverence for Cohen. Moreover, his stage presence was so much more captivating compared to last year… he walked the stage and stared intently into the audience as he sang with the emotions of each verse and chorus etched on his face.
Another clear highlight of the performance were the incredible voices of Martin and Skeates. No stranger to a stage, Martin’s vocal delivery remained formidable with the right touches of elegance during Who By Fire and Boogie Street. Skeates is a relatively new addition to the band and she elevated the night’s performance with her clear and unwavering voice. Her rendition of Ain’t No Cure For Love was sassy and playful with an emphatic voice that contained a hint of Americana and a whole lot of soul.
Truthfully, the combined vocal efforts of McMillan, Martin and Skeates is what made the songs special. Come Healing was one of my favourite songs from the concert because it nicely showcased the pleasing vocal harmonies of Martin’s more pronounced and seasoned voice with Skeate’s youthful and vibrant melodies, followed by McMillan’s methodical and resolute notes.
Last year, Pizzini’s performance of You Want It Darker was a clear standout. He gave an equally riveting version of the song which also featured a haunting vocal solo by Martin, accompanied by McMillan, Jones and Snow. Pizzini possessed such a rich baritone voice, laced with so much emotion, and I was incredibly pleased to watch him also deliver Tower Of Song in this year’s concert.
Slightly hidden away in the back of the stage, Kannemeyer kept the beat in check with his bass lines, which took on more prominence during First We Take Manhattan and Everybody Knows. Ironically, it was when Kannemeyer traded his bass for an electric guitar when the magic really happened. Kannemeyer gave a remarkable delivery of In My Secret Life with a voice mixed with regret, longing and hope. Dare I say, it almost sounded like Glenn Frey up on stage singing along with Kannemeyer.
The distinctive sound of Imperfect Offering would be lost without Nick Jones and his violin. Jones’ poignant, exuberant and dramatic violin solos truly added to the spirit of the performance. Snow’s bluesy guitar and balalaika add subtle touches during the night especially in Boogie Street, Famous Blue Raincoat and Travelling Light. Fernandez, another new member, exceeded all expectations with piano and organ accompaniments that created the ambience, particularly in Suzanne and Tower Of Song. Throughout the night, Beck effortlessly kept the beat going with light and feathery touches on the drums and cymbals.
Audio mixing and production for the show was performed by Graham Fleury or better known as G to his friends. Stage lighting by Auckland Live.
Imperfect Offering performed two sets with a short intermission in between. The audience were clearly pleased to hear more and the band returned with an encore of three songs before the concert ended. Beaming faces and bright smiles greeted the band when they came out to meet and chat with the audience.
It was truly a special concert performed for the memory of a very special man.
More images can be found in the photo gallery below.
Imperfect Offering set-list
- Dance Me To The End Of Love
- The Future
- Bird On The Wire
- Who By Fire
- In My Secret Life
- Chelsea Hotel
- Ain't No Cure For Love
- Come Healing
- If It Be Your Will
- Famous Blue Raincoat
- First We Take Manhattan
- Tower Of Song
- Boogie Street
- I'm Your Man
- Going Home
- Travelling Light
- You Want It Darker
- Everybody Knows
- So Long Marianne
- You Got Me Singing