By Wal Reid
Date / Venue: Monday February 16th, The Tuning Fork, Auckland
It always surprises me when bands come to New Zealand for the first time and connect with Kiwi audiences, as to what reception they'll get. Either it's frosty (a rarity but it does happen) or straight hard out festive, which in Lamb's case was certainly the latter, definitely.
Imagine the Mancunian duo playing a small pub sized room with hip hop infused drum n bass beats, barmy choruses of ‘happy birthday' (go the vocal Kiwi crowd) all reminiscent of a SingStar atmosphere and you're pretty much on the money of last night's Tuning Fork gig.
"You are small, but perfectly formed" says singer Lou Rhodes smiling looking stunning, every inch the high priestess in her stage garb as she greets the small but vocal Kiwi audience. She then proceeded to tell of her dream of eventually coming to New Zealand even remarking on the small size of our towels here "that wouldn't even handle Andy Barlow's sweating".
Producer Andy Barlow & singer-songwriter Lou Rhodes have just released their new album, Backspace Unwind CD numero six and just coming off a concert in Melbourne the pair aided by composer/bassist Jon Thorne (the unofficial third member of the band) were definitely ready to party as they launched into the digital lull of In Binary, the crowd's cue to revel hard.
From this point in, Barlow & Co romped through the new album with a petering of old tunes thrown into the mix for good measure. The crowd, although not as big as their previous Melbourne show, were in fine vocal form. At one point Barlow had a problems with his sampler and while it was being fixed asked the crowd to sing Górecki, to which the crowd happily obliged... so un-Kiwi it was almost like being at a football match.
Barlow is the consummate ‘party animal', the conductor of this musical chaos. His hunched up figure behind the keyboard bobbing and down in perfect sync on We Fall In Love the first single off the album, and a perfect backdrop to Rhode's wispy vocals before dealing to album picks As Satellites Go By and What Makes Us Human, the latter an ode to what other life forms would say if they could look down on our planet and according to Rhodes "like coming here, New Zealand, foreigners in a strange land".
Thorne's bass stanza's were hypnotic on the jazzy Strong Root, an integral part of the duo's sound he added solid value to the show with weaving bass lines while swapping between his double bass and bass guitar, none more evident than on the dance tracks God Bless and TFA, it was almost like being transported back to a 90s Auckland rave, the crowd revved up the vocals again as the duo gifted the crowd with another rouser their commercially minor hit Gabriel.
Lamb were a scene to behold, their music often bordering on sublime. The built up ambient beats and drum & bass rounding off a perfect Monday night with new friends in pub like surroundings, a perfect ice breaker to their first jaunt to New Zealand, and hopefully not their last. As Rhodes quips "Next time we'll play the big room".
If you see Rhodes tripping around Matakana shout out Górecki, I'm sure that'll grab her attention.