By Poppy Tohill
Date / Venue: Saturday May 17th, Kings Arms Tavern, Auckland
New Zealand Music Month provided a busy gig schedule throughout Auckland this weekend. With Native Tongue's Music Month Party being my pick for Saturday evening, with sets from a fantastic array of talented kiwi bands, Mulholland, The Bads and The Phoenix Foundation, who were also celebrating the release of their new EP, ‘Tom's Lunch.'
The Kings Arms began to fill nicely with an enthusiastic audience as Jol Mulholland took to the stage with his band to play a fantastic 30 minute set filled with songs both new and old, entertaining the audience with the odd joke here and there too. Having heard lots of talk about Mulholland over the past few months but never seeing him perform, his brilliant guitar licks and atmospheric sound proved well worth the wait.
Next up on the stage was one of the most talented and underrated bands in the country, commonly known as, The Bads. The pure talent of Dianne Swann and Brett Adams continues to blow me away just a little bit more each time I see them live. Performing a fantastic set of songs predominantly off their second album‘Travel Light,' exceptional versions of ‘So Alive' and ‘Gracious' off their debut album also made the set list, once again adorned with immensely impressive guitar solo's and instrumentals which not only did the enthusiastic crowd enjoy, but Adams who was without a doubt giving it his all, sure looked like he was having one hell of a great time. Along with Swann who also sounded as fantastic as ever.
By this stage of the night, the Kings Arms was packed with eccentric music fans, some familiar industry faces and a few punters who had possibly had just one too many. None the less, everybody was ready to party by the time the Phoenix Foundation took to the stage and fortunately, the songs on the band's new EP, are more upbeat than last years Fandango album, so the fans were in luck. Kicking off the show with the buoyant track‘Bob Lennon John Dylan,' this proved the perfect choice to coax the audience into a dancing mood for the rest of the night.
The band of six up on stage seemed to be enjoying performing just as much as the crowd were boogying, as they went on to perform ‘Fiscal Pickle,' ‘Bitte Bitte' and ‘Asswipe' from the new EP before going on to play some old favourites from ‘Fandango.'
After the flashback to ‘Fandango' favourites, another three new songs were brought to the stage, one of which was the dreamy yet punctuated tune ‘Mountain' which Buda admitted they had never performed live before.
"This song is much older!" Buda exclaimed, as they then went on to perform '40 years' from their 2007 album, ‘Happy Ending,' which proved a favourite hit amongst the enthusiastic crowd, who danced along with the just as eccentric strobe lights which constantly flashed around the room.
With the energy levels rising as they went on to play ‘Black Mould,' ultimate crowd favourites ‘Bright Grey' and‘Buffalo' had the entire audience singing along as they went on to perform a seven minute version of ‘Corale'from Fandango, to bring their set to an end.
As the energy levels remained high and the audience still in party mode, it wasn't long before The Phoenix Foundation returned to the stage for an encore. Kickstarting it off with a performance of ‘Dalston Junction' a new single which sounds nothing like what they've done before.
Concluding their encore with an impressive performance of ‘Sideways Glance,' the Phoenix Foundation truly showed us how much of an excellent live performance they can put on, filled with great energy and gusto.
If it wasn't the music that you enjoyed the most, during the night however, the surrounding environment more than made up for it, as it was fairly obvious with the smiles on everyone's faces, that a good night was being had by all, including the musicians.