By Stella Gardiner
Artist: Trace Bundy
Date / Venue: Sunday August 21st, 2016 - Memorial Auditorium, Wellington
Internationally acclaimed “Acoustic Ninja” Trace Bundy played the final show of his début New Zealand tour in Wellington last night. It was a last minute decision for me to head along as I’d never seen anything like this and wasn’t sure if I was up to the task. But I figured it’s always good to get out of your comfort zone so I did some research and discovered terms like “finger-style”, “harmonics”, “looping” and “capos” so that at least I might have some clue about what I was listening to. I also learned Trace has performed all over the planet from Italy to Zimbabwe, with New Zealand officially being the 28th country in which he has played.
Victoria University of Wellington’s Memorial Auditorium was a fitting place to host such an intimate concert - the acoustics were spot on and the stage was aptly lit. First up we were treated to the sounds of Australian finger-style guitarist Van Larkins. Van has been composing his own fusion of traditional music with 80s inspired finger-style since an early age and his set really was something to behold. The two highlights were a speculator cover of Survivor’s Eye Of The Tiger, and Larkin’s own song The Crow composed one day after having a close encounter with a bird of the same name.
Trace headed on stage to an animated crowd who greeted him with much applause. His performance was divided into two sets with a fifteen-minute break in between. After a brief welcome and (lucky for me) an introduction to the basics of harmonics, he begins. Instantly I can see why the audience were so excited to see this man - watching Trace on stage is more than just watching a musician perform to an audience it’s like having a friend over for a soireé. Trace’s friendly and open persona coupled with a wicked sense of humour made for some great banter. After a cover of Crowded House’s Don’t Dream It’s Over, and a performance of his own song Joy And Sorrow which involved playing two guitars; one in D Major (joy) and one in D minor (sorrow), Trace took the traditional audience “family photo” and we all headed out for a break.
The second set commenced with a cover of Guns n’ Roses Sweet Child O’ Mine and a highly entertaining Beat It by Michael Jackson played entirely on the “Pocket Guitar” iPhone app. But it’s not all about covers; Finger-style masterpiece Duelling Ninjas from the new album Elephant King with the “dancing monkey referee” and beautiful Love Song showcase Trace’s musical poetry-in-motion.
The show closes with Overtime, an ode to Trace’s brother and a song from an earlier album. For this he invites Van Larkins back on stage to perform a duet. I am blown away.