The Bads & Don Walker

By Poppy Tohill

Artist:  The Bads & Don Walker

Date / Venue:  Thursday 17th April, The Tuning Fork, Auckland

I've finally come to the realisation that it is utterly impossible for The Bads to put on a bad show, just as it is not to rave about them. New Zealand needs to realise just how exceptional this band really is, therefore I am going to continue raving.

Being at least the sixth time I've seen them perform live, the thing I love most about The Bads, is they constantly surprise. Putting on an excellent seven song set with additional extended instrumentals and solos made for an incredible performance at Auckland's Tuning Fork on a wet Thursday night. 

The talented duo consisting of Brett Adams and Dianne Swann were joined on stage with their touring band of incredibly talented musicians, Mike Hall on bass, Wayne Bell on drums and multi-instrumentalist Dave Kahn who added a touch of everything from mandolin to fiddle and guitar. 

Opening their set with a banjo fuelled ‘Worried Mind,' the band were certainly on fire, not hiding that they were absolutely loving every minute of it.  Their popular hit ‘So Alive' from their first album of the same name proved a particular favourite amongst the somewhat small but enthusiastic crowd, adorned with a fantastic mandolin solo from Kahn and instrumental build up from Adam's on electric guitar.

‘Fire In The Caravan' from their second album ‘Travel Light' saw Kahn showcase his skills on the fiddle, which also continued throughout the countrified dance tune, ‘Good Lies,' which if I was to be completely honest, was one of, if not thee best version I have ever heard them play of that song.  ‘See The Light' also had extra fiddle additions, while ‘Gracious' embellished a ‘receive-answer' type solo/instrumental between Adam's on electric guitar and Kahn on mandolin. Evidently proving another crowd favourite receiving great applause and cheers from the audience.

Concluding with their soothing and meticulous single ‘California,' the smooth vocals of Brett & Dianne intertwined together with the alluring polished guitar melody, drew their set to an end nicely, although I admit I'm sure I wasn't the only one who could have happily sat their longer listening to more.

Soon enough however, Cold Chisel fans made their way closer to the stage awaiting the arrival of Don Walker. I've got to ashamedly admit that I have never listened to Cold Chisel's music before and the last time Walker performed solo in New Zealand I was only 2 years old, so I was definitely in the minority.  I did however come away with the rest of the crowd, very impressed. The enthusiastic audience hung on to every word throughout his fifteen-song set, proving just how enthralling his storytelling ability was.

Set opener, ‘Sitting In A Bar' was the perfect way to begin, sitting alone at the electric piano humouring the audience with the lyrics, which told a story about sitting in a bar with the two last drinkers, one of which was a girl and the other he was not so sure.

One by one, each member of The Bads slowly joined Walker on stage, each time brining an extra attribute to the floor. 

‘Angry Women' from his most recent solo album proved a highlight for many as his repetitive line of "angry women... everywhere" drew a great amount of laughter from the crowd.

Each member of The Bads stellar vocals, guitar, drums and fiddle playing completed Walker's set outstandingly, making it rather apparent that they were the perfect match together.  With a three song encore, of ‘Hully Gully,' ‘HQ454' and ending the way he begun, alone on the piano for ‘The Way You Are Tonight,'the beautiful ballad acted as the ultimate send off to the audience. There honestly isn't a lot more you could have asked for that night.

With a performance oozing with passion and talent from seven incredibly outstanding musicians, I push my point that New Zealand needs to know about The Bads, because there is absolutely no doubt that you are completely missing out.