By Suzie Dawson
Date / Venue: Sunday December 28th, Coroglen Tavern, Coromandel
The first significant Occupy Wall Street documentary that came out was called "I am not moving!" and is a great metaphor for my front-row experience seeing Shihad at the Coroglen Tavern on Sunday night, part of their FVEYsummer 2014-2015 tour.
Nothing beats a great summer holiday road-trip but there are a few key ingredients to creating one which will make memories that last a life-time.
2. You need pristine, photogenic locations - in this case, the land surrounding Whitianga in the Coromandel Peninsula - the kinds of places that remind you how incredible the landscape of this country really is and exactly why we need to protect it.
3. You need a pinnacle event where you can let off some steam - literally, when that happens to involve a couple thousand people and a moshpit!
Shihad concerts really are more than a fun holiday show - they are an experience. New Zealand's premier live rock act, and Hall of Fame'ers, you don't have to look far through Libel's Shihad archive, or the monstrous fan-driven Shihad Wiki to realise how deserving of their iconic status they really are. However what is still emerging is the massive political significance of their latest album, FVEY (released June 2014) and the contemporary relevance and potency of the lyrics. A FVEY promo interview on (gasp) NewstalkZBreally gave the game away. Host Mike Hosking pontificates somewhat contemptuously that he doesn't know how much politics people want with their music. Well, if we consider that the #1 song and album of all time was Lennon's 'Imagine', or remember Pink Floyd's 'The Wall' - what a silly question. Music that speaks truth to power has always been the penultimate social prize - one that transcends generations and inspires social evolution. FVEY is all that and more - speaking to those who are disillusioned by the head-in-the-sand mentality of the media mainstream - disheartened by the failings of the political process. Frankly calling out the unjust - raging against the machine. It is a delicious, subversive irony that the creative freedom of Shihad's 9th studio album (11 total) and their big-label backing can combine to allow anti-mass-media messages of awakening to be pushed through corporate network outlets like NewstalkZB.
This album possesses the much-vaunted and genuine live feel that serves up a cross-over sound bridging studio and gig. To hear so much of the new material played in person as if they'd been doing it all their lives is a fast reminder that they have. As an independent journalist and new media advocate, I had the distinct and easy feeling that they were singing my life back to me, from the stage. As a Shihad fan of over 20 years, I felt they were bringing me 'Home Again'. Indeed as Jon Toogood sings in 'Grey Area' - "I am a reflection - I'm what you want to hear!"
THE DEETS: The Crowd: were chanting "SHIHAD - SHIHAD - SHIHAD" before the guitar techs had even got the opening band's gear off the stage. This was a resounding chant throughout the night, one that was rewarded with an encore at the end of the show.
The Opening Acts: Sadly we missed Cairo Knife Fight, however I Am Giant were so good that I was instantly converted into a fan - my noobness shining through when I initially mistook new singer Ryan James Redmanfor ex singer Ed Martin purely on the basis of how he gelled onstage with the band, effortlessly in fact. The Datsuns were at their adrenaline-inducing best, with what I'm pretty sure was their lead guitarist's mother (..or aunt? Or random wanton admirer?) alongside me in the front row enthusing - "isn't he BEAUTIFUL?!" They played many of their radio hits and received a rapturous reception from young and old alike.
The Headline Performance: The boys kept eye contact with the crowd, singling out familiar faces and grinning like cheshire cats throughout the show. It really was clear that they were enjoying themselves as much as we were. Phil was swish as hell in a swanky suit - Jon made regular appearances in the front row - shaking hands with people, imploring the crowd to join him in jumping about, giving as much sweat back to the crowd as they poured on each other. The ground shook, the steam rose, the crowd screamed loud enough to cause temporary tinitis. All the great elements of a kickass rock show.
The Sound: positioned front row & stage right (by the bass bins) I was understandably struggling at times to hear Phil Knight's guitars but others centre and rear said the sound was great. As usual the rhythm section of Tom Larkin and Karl Kippenberger was fat, grunty, flawlessly executed and memorable.
The Set-List: They opened with the killer combo of 'Think You're So Free' and title-track 'FVEY' - followed by 'The General Electric', 'My Mind's Sedate', 'The Living Dead', 'Song For No One', 'Wait and See', 'You Again', 'The Great Divide', 'Wasted In The West', 'Comfort Me' and finished with the incredible 'Cheap As'. The Encore: 'Grey Area' and a massive rendition of 'Home Again', replete with crowd singing the final chorus a capella en masse. Really moving - the stuff life-long memories are made of.
The Next Single Should Be: the romantic in me really wants it to be "Love's Long Shadow" - the extremely haunting and lone discernible love song on the album - however because of what perfect examples of Shihad they are, I'm picking the high energy 'Wasted In The West' or 'The Living Dead'.
The Aftermath: Shihad hung out after the show, taking photographs with fans and signing merchandise. Given how much time and energy they had already injected into us, this was an extra special bonus that made a lot of people's night - mine included. Thanks boys!!!! (Check out my live-tweet of the show with commentary and over 25 pics - vids to follow!)