In his shiny rayon mask and Jareth the Goblin King trousers, louche lounge pop-picker, Jonathan Bree showcased his most recent solo album, Sleepwalking at Auckland's sumptuous Hollywood theatre.
He had a go at pizzazz, but an over-reliance on promo-vid visuals and out of sync dancers narked.
Support is Orewa's Green Grove. They were perfect for Hollywood's dark deco, arriving in green mists and playing extended versions of trippy, Lynchian tracks from their 2018 ep, Night Music.
On Soma , a baritone clarinet slithered across soft drum and bass rhythms. Suited leader Durham Fenwick employed a spacey vocader on Sit Down. It's wonderful. Like listening to Blade Runner while watching the train departing in Brief Encounter.
Jonathan Bree began with the title track from Sleepwalking. His deep husky voice pleading to "school [him] in what gets you shake shake shaking". Big guitar drones whisked around the stage, drawing a hesitant audience in.
Two Pierrots flanked Bree, attempting synchronicity with their physical interpretations of his quirky synth-Musak. They did a good job standing in for Princess Chelsea on Static, and when in alignment with the trippy black and white visuals, provided startling eye-candy.
Unfortunately, one Pierrot was definitely playing catch up, sometimes desperately looking to the more competent counterpart for the next move. Maybe it was a stand in, a dancer called in sick? Sadly, it was sometimes over-overwhelmingly distracting.
As was the lack of real musicians. When he played The Others Way festival, there was a full band and the songs took centre stage. Tonight, warm string arrangements only came via backing tracks and Bree and his confident songwriting struggled to stand out as anything more than a distraction to the twee and repetitive video backdrops.
Mid-set highlight Drones and Satellites saw Bree's deep, arousing voice finding its way towards you again. For the minutes he's sprawled between red runway lights, you got a sense of attachment and felt part of the experience.
Otherwise, even catchy hits You're So Cool and Fuck It felt distant.
Whether it is deliberate on Bree's part -- to make the audience feel they were watching an instillation -- the stubborn unbrokenness of the fourth wall was perplexing and altogether unsatisfying.
All visuals in the show were produced and curated by Jonathan Bree and Kermath from Cuetone Media.