Auckland all-girl alternative rock band, She Loves You, returns to the NZ music scene with a 'sly' and hedonistic new track, Dirty Orlean. Fellow rockers Royal Jackets and Animalhead performed as special guests at the sold-out show in Auckland's Anthology K Road.
Expectations tend to be high when one sees a stack of Marshall amps on stage when the Royal Jackets took the mini stage first, led by the charismatic Jono Ashwell, who sang, rapped and danced like a minstrel on red bull. Amazingly, the experience and prowess of the band as a tight and cohesive unit was apparent right from the first bang of Josh Sorenson's drum-beat. Lead guitarist Ben Jurisich dove right in with solid guitar riffs to match the thundering basslines of Hank Matoskah. Opening tracks Tixilix, Casino and Best Friend went by in a 70s-80s rock-infused blur. A cover of Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and the inclusion of songs like Maybelline, Cat People etc into their songs was a brilliant touch. Royal Jackets are veteran rockers and master musicians who proudly show their love for The Beatles, David Bowie and Queen in their original songs and performance style. See the band perform at the coming Waiheke Jazz, Art and Music Festival on Good Friday.
Animalhead from West Auckland was up next with Dan Rooke on drums/vocals, Josh OBrien on bass and Campbell Mickell on guitar and vocals. The hard-rocking trio are regulars in the Auckland gig scene and some of their songs had a welcoming touch of alternative and progressive metal. Unfortunately, Mickell's vocals were sometimes drowned by the overall sound but this did not hinder an enjoyable set of songs including a cover of The Beatles' Come Together.
Finally, it was time to enjoy the main course of the night when She Loves You lead singer Madeline Berry gave the crowd a beaming smile before the band launched full-blast into Zeus, followed up the ever-popular Clique.
Jessie Booth and her Gretsch added a full and rich guitar sound to each song, served delectably with a wide and warm smile... which was somewhat disorientating because this petite guitarist with her fine Turquoise-dyed hair was a badass when it came to unleashing the sonic fuzzy fury from her bright red ax particularly in Porn Hun, Dead and the new single Dirty Orlean.
Bassist Cassandra King stayed rooted to stage left, delivering hard and pulsating basslines with a gritty edge in Fight Club, I Want It and Jameson.
Session-drummer for hire, Katie Baya continues to amaze with her mastery of the kit. This writer just saw her perform recently with LEXXA at The Tuning Fork and here she is again as a permanent member of She Loves You. Female drummers, especially exceptional ones like Baya, are rare so it is always a delight to see her pounding on the drums. Baya's varying drum patterns and cymbal crashes added flair and excitement to each SLY track.
And who best to exemplify the decadent and femme fatal-istic flavours of Dirty Orlean but frontwoman Madeline Berry herself, who sneered and swayed mischievously on and off the Anthology stage. This SLY minx was born to be on stage, comfortably engaging with the audience, oozing with self-confidence and a sucker-punch full of swagger.
The obvious SLY highlight of the night was Dirty Orlean with the sold-out crowd joining in to sing while jumping and oscillating wildly to the rock anthem for female empowerment and freedom.
Overall, it was an enjoyable night at the Anthology K Road with a heart full of raunchy guitar, in-your-face bass and drumbeats with beguiling vocals from She Loves You. In future, this writer would love to see more solos incorporated into the SLY track-list and an opportunity for each member of the band to show mastery of their instrument during their live shows.
A special mention and credit must be given to Matt for a brilliant stage sound mix and Jesse for adjusting the stage lights that made a huge positive impact.
A recent press release has confirmed that She Loves You will be releasing more singles before their debut EP later this year. All this writer can say is that the releases are a long time coming and will undoubtedly be taste worthy of anyone's appetite for hard rock.