By Poppy Tohill
Date / Venue: Sunday June 19th, 2016 - Kings Arms, Auckland
Although it may have been the first time Fur Patrol have performed in Auckland for eight years, their ability to rock clearly hasn’t diminished over that time.
Bounding onto the stage, front woman Julia Deans, bassist Andrew Bain and drummer Simon Braxton looked just as thrilled to be there than the undeniably eager crowd were, proving another thing which hasn’t diminished over time - their loyal fan base.
“When we were coming up with our setlist, we came up with about 520 songs, eventually managing to whittle it down to 13, so I think we’ve done pretty fucking good,” Deans informed the crowd, with a laugh. However, selecting a perfect mix of tracks spanning their 20-year career, a good, in-fact great job is exactly what they did.
Kickstarting the night off with Beautiful from their 1998 Starlifter EP, Deans energy exploded into full force throughout Art Of Conversation & Precious, both of which incorporated impressive guitar work from Deans herself, driving the songs with impressive and memorable riffs alongside her remarkably empowering vocal skills, those of which only seem to have strengthened over time.
You would think that after not performing together for almost ten years their musicianship and existing bond might not be quite as strong, but that most certainly wasn’t the case, as each member, as talented as the last, equally had their time in the spotlight, with Braxton’s being the exquisite execution of pulsating rhythms that strongly drove Softer Landing and the faster paced, more energetic Counting Upside Down.
Hauling You Around exhibited Fur Patrol’s softer instrumental side accompanying Deans delicately haunting vocals, which continued throughout the building intro of the slower paced, Local Kid.
Soon enough, Bain and Braxton launched into the instantly recognisable toe-tapping riff of Lydia, undeniably Fur Patrol’s biggest hit and most loved song, receiving an array of delighted cheers from the audience as they prepared themselves to dance and sing along.
Recovering from some technical issues, the audience were treated to some quality banter from all members of the group and a short-lived jam which Deans jokingly described as ‘hold music’ whilst tuning her guitar, later willing the audience to pretend the last 30 seconds didn’t happen. (Sorry Julia, the hold music was too great not to mention).
Before too long they were back in the swing of things, increasing the pace and volume levels once again as they launched into Andrew, a high-energy rock number they definitely gave their all, building up to an epic guitar solo finale from Deans, that blew more than just my own mind, I’m sure.
“Thanks for coming out and watching some old crusties play,” Deans chuckled, as she thanked the audience. But the love and thankfulness was clearly mutual as they closed out their set with Man In A Box, a tune from their Starlifter EP. Proceeding the song with a memory of taking a cassette, with a hand-drawn cover, around student radio for airplay 20 years ago.
It was like a blast of nostalgia as their set drew to an end, far too early for anyone’s liking and with their eight year hiatus now broken, my fingers and toes are crossed that it’s sooner than another eight years before we get to see them take to the stage again. Because by the way the audience responded, there’s more than a few people who would certainly love to see them again and sooner rather than later.
As the nights proceedings continued, English alternative rockers Swervedriver took to the stage with sheer excitement apparent across their faces, finding themselves in front of a New Zealand audience for the first time since 1998.
Forming even before my time, the quartet played a vast array of material from their long-winded history, including 1991 hit Rave Down and Last Train To Satansville from their 1993 record Mezcal Head to a collection of tracks from their latest record I Wasn’t Born To Lose You, released last year, including crowd favourites Setting Sun and the exceptionally gritty guitar-driven, Duel which closed out their set.
The thumping rhythmic beats of each song driven by drummer Mikey Jones alongside lead guitarist Jimmy Hartridge’ gritt-fueled guitar licks, the dance floor was more than steaming by the time their high-energy set drew to an end.
A distinctly phenomenal night of entertainment and possibly one of the best ways to spend a Sunday evening, Swervedriver continued the party almost incomparably, however, it deems impossible to see past the kiwi roots, therefore reigning Fur Patrol the overall champions of the night.