The Bads

Photo by Wal Reid

Photo by Wal Reid

By Wal Reid

Artist: The Bads 

Date / Venue: Friday July 7th, 2017 - The Tuning Fork, Auckland

Whoever got Harry Lyon to play before The Bads is a bloody legend. The ex Hello Sailor & Coup D’état frontman was the night’s ‘pièce de résistance’.

His meandering around the guitar and knack of belting out a blinder or two, was just the tonic to kick-start the weekend. Stripped down to just himself and guitar, he had no trouble connecting to the audience who were happy to drink and leave him to his own devices. The simple narrative between songs was heartfelt, a bona-fide genuineness expressed in his music, including a brilliant stripped down Doctor I Like Your Medicine & reworked acoustic version of Hello Sailor’s Lying In The Sand – so, so good.

Its always a good omen when you can beeline your way to the front of the stage, avoid a stoush with languishing punters with drinks in hand. Even better, when the music isn’t blaring at you so you can listen without the hassle of ear plugs. Lucky for me, this was the perfect scenario, as Bads’s duo Brett Adams (one time Mocker) & once-Cats-Away singer Dianne Swann took to the stage playing songs off their brand spanking new recording Losing Heroes.

Cruising straight into new tune Crash And Burn, Mr Adams & Ms Swann cavorted the stage, their sweet music emanating, caressing the ears of those in attendance, while I found myself preferring the live version of Spinning Wheel Turning Tides to the recording. Guitar driven songs like California or Get It Right highlight wunderkind Adam’s guitar licks, reminiscent of Cold Chisel’s Ian Moss – tasty, but without its head up its technical arse.

Add to the mix talented multi-instrumentalist Dave Khan, legend skin basher Wayne Bell and ex GoldenHorse Ben King on bass, and you have the formula for one hot night of music, a spectacle that’s impressive as any band I’ve seen of late.

There is nothing sibylline or cryptic about The Bads, if anything they are probably this country’s best kept secret, their brand of amiable Country Alt has many facets to like, most of all their knack of infectious catchy songs. Tunes like Shelter Love are pop bliss tinged with southern rock phrasing, it just begs a listening audience. Adams & Swann's voices complement each other as they work around the songs, whether harmonising or soloing it works.

At one point in the concert Swann, looked like nearly losing her shit during the set as she expostulated the sound guy to turn up the mic. Pulling it together, she composed herself as they continued the momentum, each song given rapturous applause. Him And Her (a song about Swann’s parents) while dedicating the title track Losing Heroes to fallen stalwarts Graham Brazier & Dave McAartney from Hello Sailor, even Tim Finn & son Harper got in on the act to sing a couple of songs – Split Enz’s Dirty Creature & a stirring I Shall Be Released by Bob Dylan.

It was a great night out as Swann asking the audience if they could end on a “quiet song”, “is that alright?” she asked as the band stirred back into life to give the punters one more thrill as they ended on Heartbreak Beach and the jangle of West with Dave Khan on electric fiddle heightening the mood.

The Bads are adult pop, MOR call it what you will, they’re like the ‘Arcade Fire for now’, just good songs with a mature edge.

Thanking the audience Swann was in “Great Shock”, but I think you must be doing something right if you have Tim Finn & Harry Lyon playing with you, its provenance enough that you are on the right track.

The band is touring both islands to support this album, which is deliciously available on vinyl also.