Date / Venue: Saturday July 22nd, 2017 - Juice Bar, Auckland
Like many gig reviews this week - it was a dark and stormy night in Auckland as gathered outside Juice Bar in Parnell. Having seen and shot the Wolves numerous times, I knew I was in for a high energy show, so with the ever-closer demise of the Kings Arms Tavern I was particularly interested in checking out the venue which I'd not been to for many years - and doing so with a band like Written By Wolves would be a worthy experience.
Coming with in-house PAS and lighting, and topping out capacity of around 350 Juice looks like it could be a worthy contender for filling that mid-sized venue, this was also something front man Mike Murphy mentioned prior to the show - with the Arms soon to be gone, bands need to be prepared, finding AND promoting a replacement venue for shows before being left out in the cold is vital to the continuance of Auckland's live music scene.
For me - I think Juice is a potential contender, whilst the standard stage setup is relatively small and low (to which the Wolves brought in stage extensions and drum risers, which they've often done at the Kings Arms as well) the layout works well, complete with side of stage area for gear, or photographers camping out for the elusive drummer shots, to the outside cabana bar and the relaxing front lounge, along with ample street parking if needed - Juice and The Windsor Castle provide a compelling setting.
But enough of the venue, the music! With 3 acts on the lineup, I was looking for a full night of rock, but I felt we only got 2 acts (more than enough) as up first - was the Wolves own Oli Lyons DJ set, and to be honest - I wasn't entirely sure this was the act, or just a filler, spinning tunes and and adding electronic drum fills, it left me kinda confused and, unfortunately, a little bored.
Next up was Mudshark - an act new to me, it didn't take long before I was hooked on singer Rory Howard's vocals, versatile, strong, and a healthy dose of on-stage banter made for a relaxing, fun set. It was here I noticed unfortunately that the stage-lighting was a little on the lacking side, with an excellent sounding drummer hidden away in more shadows than I could adequately capture on the camera, which is a shame as what I was hearing was awesome. Over all the set started to get heavier as time progressed, which often isn't a bad thing - but I was left with a feeling of a band that hasn't quite found its sweet spot yet.
After a fairly quick and seemingly painless switch over, Written By Wolves hit the stage sending the crowd into a frenzy, a crowd I might say that included two fans who drove up all the way from Wellington just for this show - now that's dedication. I've yet to see the Wolves put on a bad show, they consistently deliver a high quality, pumped full of energy show that never fails to entertain. This is certainly in no small part due to Michael Murphys excellent stage persona, literally working the crowd after jumping in, only to be replaced on stage by Batman - taking a break from saving Gotham City to ensure that Parnell Rise is safe...
...and like that the show was over. In what seemed a blink of an eye we were at the last song of the night and then it was all over - Batman kept us safe, Written By Wolves kept us entertained, and Juice Bar kept us from going thirsty.
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