By Poppy Tohill
Artist: Louis Baker
Date / Venue: Friday March 28th, The Tuning Fork, Auckland
Wow... Is really all there is to say about Louis Baker, to be honest. Not to sound cheesy, but he has the voice of an angel. He can hold the attention of a room with only a quiet smile and guitar in hand but also has one of the most impressive soul screams you will ever hear...
Not one single person left the Tuning Fork on Friday night completely and utterly speechless and in awe of what they'd just witnessed.
It is very rare these days, to go a concert where the entire audience sits and listens in absolute silence throughout the whole set. No chatter, no clinking of glasses or bottles, just one stage, one musician and a venue full of appreciating fans completely lost in the music.
Louis Baker, more commonly known as a member of Brockaflowersaurus-Rex & The Blueberry Biscuits, and the opening act of choice for the Thomas Oliver Band, took to the stage and spotlight for a solo performance as a part of his current EP tour, at Auckland's Tuning Fork on Friday night and every thing about his performance was absolutely phenomenal.
When listening to Baker's EP, his detailed and emotional lyrics, expressive guitar style and rich vocal tone strike you right in the heart. From a live performance perspective though, I had goosebumps. If you closed your eyes and listened to the music, it wasn't hard to believe you were the only one in the room Baker was performing to.
Opening his set in full glory style with track ‘Heavy Stone,' Baker sat centre stage, his silhouette masking the black backdrop, guitar in hand and two beautiful women to his right, one on cello, the other on violin.
The venue proved a perfect choice for highlighting the dramatic and effective simplicity of the performance overall. Baker's powerful voice echoed throughout the entire room as the audience sat in complete silence soaking up his smooth, soulful voice that ranged from high to low in pitch exquisitely.
Baker's stage presence also proved a highlight as he developed a fantastic rapport with the audience. Although proving somewhat shy or maybe nervous, his humourous comments and banter received many a laughs and applause from the appreciative crowd.
The rest of Baker's set continued without accompaniment from the cello or violin, as he went on to play songs, ‘Movin,' ‘I'm Not Afraid Anymore,' and ‘Back On My Feet.'
Soon putting aside the acoustic guitar, Baker switched to electric, for tracks, ‘The Way' and crowd favourite‘Purple Rain,' which saw the whole audience joining in for a sing-a-long. "I've been wanting to play this song all night!" Baker excitedly admitted before proceeding to play ‘Purple Rain.'
Following ‘Purple Rain,' Baker admitted "I'm just going to have a little jam now, if you don't mind." Using loop pedals and recording various different rhythms and guitar licks which he then combined together at the end, he broke out in song about the venue singing, "ohh yeeah, woohooo, the tuning fork, oh yeeah.' Receiving great laughter and applause from the audience, it was obvious the crowd weren't the only ones having a bit of fun.
Returning back to the acoustic guitar, ‘Love' was yet another crowd favourite, followed by ‘Even In the Darkness,' Baker's first official single released back in 2012.
Concluding his set with a series of covers, Baker went on to perform a stunning rendition of Bilal's, ‘Soul Sista,' Frank Sinatra's, ‘One For My Baby (And One More For The Road)', drawing his set to and end with The Beatles catchy tune ‘Get Back.'
Drawing on help from the audience, who he wittingly named ‘The Tuning Fork choir,' the venue was soon enough echoing with the claps and responsive shouts of ‘Get Back' from both Baker himself and the audience.
Once departing the stage, it didn't take long for Baker to be beckoned back on for an encore where he was again joined by the violinist and celloist, to perform the most stunning, inspiring and heart-wrenching performance of his popular single, ‘Birds.'
Talking with numerous people after the gig, I had four people tell me it was the best performance they'd seen from any artist in the last two- three years. With that comment alone standing for it self, if you get the chance to see Louis Baker perform, do not miss out because I believe he is one of the most promising new talents to emerge from New Zealand in recent years, and it's not going to be long before the rest of the world recognise him.