Image by: SomeBizarreMonkey
Concert Reviews

Concert Review: Jonathan Bree Sleepwalks Across To Hollywood In Auckland

Where: Hollywood Cinema, Auckland, NZ
When: 02 Nov 2018
Simon William Todd

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. 

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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. 

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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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. 

Radio 13 thanks and credits Reuben Raj from SomeBizarreMonkey for all the images used in this article. More pretty pictures in the photo gallery further below!

All visuals in the show were produced and curated by Jonathan Bree and Kermath from Cuetone Media

Audio equipment was kindly supplied by College Hill Productions with stage lighting by Hugh Sundae at Hollywood Cinema

Written By: Simon William Todd After loitering on the periphery of the London indie scene in the 1990s, Simon hot-footed it to Aotearoa where he loves his family, English language teaching and writing swan songs. He is a keen follower of Tāmaki’s maunga, enjoying rough and smooth basalt alike. A gig and album reviewer and now radio DJ as well, Simon champions the seedier side of electronic pop and indie rock.