Radio 13 takes a deep dive into the depths of Auckland's K Road on Friday night. Etienne’s at the Whammy Bar and I’m making my debut downstairs at Anthology, where I find that our intrepid photo-guru, Ginny C, is already a celebrity, with her work adorning the walls alongside Robert Knight’s (maybe) more famous pics of Slash, Plant and Vaughan. In fact, I understand that the Anthology Lounge was conceived by Robert and Slash during one futile early morning search for a place to hang out.
Well, it’s futile no more in this rather cavernous underground hangout sprinkled with semi-circled lounge sofas to add a touch, if not of class, then aspiration. Tonight is the last gig in The After’s Asia Pacific tour, and also the first. And also, the only one, at least for now. I wonder why? But if aspiration is all you need to breathe then promoter and band founder Andrew Featherstone has lots of stamina to rely on in pursuing the dream. Because it seems to me that this is what tonight is all about, a showcase of dream pursuit. What’s the difference between a good band and a great band? Between success and mediocrity?
Often it’s just luck, and more often it’s just margin, as we are to find out with this mini showcase of retro rock in almost all its forms. Not to mention hard work, persistence and commitment.
Big Tasty have just started when I arrive, a big band nestled into the stage area, with a big but subtle jazz-swing sound which immediately brings Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings to mind. Very cruisy, late night or early afternoon music to dance or booze to. Kirsten Leigh Goodland’s sultry vocal softly swirls above the sneaky rhythms of Joseph T. Chase (songwriter) and Mitch Goodfellow’s subtle guitars, swapping leads in mutual respect. Sssssssssssizzling. There is also a full rhythm section with Niki Te Whaiti on sax, Michael Ligani on keys, Lucas West on bass and Hayden Keach on drums. Very nice. Big Tasty are playing at the Horse and Trap next Sunday afternoon, July 26th. Well worth a look.
And here’s a wee taste.
Next up is The Was, not the Is or the Will be, but almost, because the first thing we learn is that they were Four, and now Three. Has there been a last-minute Defection, or De-selection? No, as it turns out, the other guitarist Is Detained while his partner Delivers their child. Quite a reasonable excuse and there are not many when there’s a gig to be played.
So, the for-the-moment power trio gets into their work, and it gets better once they turn the Lights out and Wake Up. A little Green Day, a little thrash punk, with lots of catchy hooks. The Was have a pretty decent album out, since last year, check it out here.
Another large contingent fills the stage, and these guys look both mean and mean business. But if you didn’t know, you’d die wondering what the Sunnylaw Social Club are all about. Maybe you have to go to Sunnylaw Place? Out west. No need for me, because they strike up and I’m cast back to my youthful 1970s, with blues, rock and a touch of funk. It’s about time. It’s also about good music. And good mates. There’s Bobby Dex on drums, Paul O’Brian on lead, Jason Lee also on lead, Aaron Corbett on bass, and the new boy from Beverley, Yorkshire, Ryan Mathie, sounding like a halfway between Cocker and The Commitments’ Andrew Strong. Very good band, look out for them at your local, and get a little whiff of this:
And now it’s time for The After, a new band Andrew has put together for the aforementioned Asia Pacific Tour. Second gig, and so new there is nothing out there to share. But they are loud and proud and good old-fashioned hard rockers. Oscar Miller from Close To The Bone is on lead guitar and long hair and he’s all riff and all hair, Sam Holden from Skinny Hobos is all beard on the drums, Micky Adderley (yes, he’s Tommy’s son) is all swagger on vocals (maybe too much, don’t fall over mate) and Andrew Featherstone is on bass, both light and heavy, like a... well, like a Stone Feather, of course he is.
An accomplished set of mainly originals and a cover of Empire of the Sun’s We are The People. The crowd, which has been coming and going, going and coming all night, there must be something going on outside, suddenly surges and looks decent. The set-list has 11 songs, I’m not sure we get all of them, but it’s pumpkin time, and this old man has to get home, ears ringing from aural overdose. What next for The After? Maybe we have to wait for the hereafter...
A great night’s music and there is more to come, but not for me.
And a special shout out to Andrew from Wavefront Audio, the hardest working sound guy I have ever seen, working every corner of the venue to make sure the sound is just right. It's as right as you can make it, Andrew, so hat’s off!
Radio 13 credits Ginny C for all the images featured in this article.