Howling Bells

By Poppy Tohill

Artist:  Howling Bells

Date / Venue:  Saturday September 13th, The Tuning Fork, Auckland

It wasn't the largest crowd I'd seen gathered at Auckland's Tuning Fork last night, for Australian rockers,Howling Bells. Although it wasn't the most stunning of nights- weather wise, I will give them that. However, off the back of three shows in Australia, making their way across the ditch for a rare show in New Zealand to promote their latest album, ‘Heartstrings,' the band unfortunately didn't seem to deliver to the potential I believe they really could, until later on in the piece, when it was almost too late.

The audience seemed to love them however, as they received a great deal of applause when taking to the stage as vocalist and rhythm guitarist Juanita Stein, cheerfully bounded to the front of the stage, greeting the audience with a warm welcome, "Good evening, we're Howling Bells and you're Auckland."

Kicking off the show with a strong performance of ‘Paris,' quickly followed by ‘Possessed,' both tracks from their recent album received a warm round of applause, with it soon becoming obvious that Juanita definitely had the power to carry the show herself.

For some reason that didn't seem to happen and last very long, however. While Stein's raw, seductive and deep vocals were exceptionally mesmerising, she soon became somewhat lost behind the extraordinary guitar work from her brother, Joel Stein, who shone like a star. Performing impressive intros and solos during numerous songs throughout their set, his rhythmic riffs outshone all his band mates throughout ‘A Ballad For The Bleeding Hearts,' ‘Cities Burning Down,' and ‘Nightingale.'

Glenn Moule on drums also churned out some tremendous rhythms, highlighting the rocky ‘Blessed Night' as a personal favourite, intertwining the toe-tapping kick of the bass drum, with Stein's strong vocals. ‘Setting Sun,' The Wilderness' and ‘Slowburn' kept the crowd moving as the band turned up the energy for these immensely rocky numbers.

Before launching into a decent performance of ‘Low Happening,' Juanita announced, "this is our last song... but not really, because we have an encore, but we actually have nowhere to go, so maybe if you just clap and make us feel good after this song, we'll pretend to go away and then come back," she laughed.  As they reached the end of the track, someone in the audience cheekily yelled out- "Encore!" which saw Juanita laugh, and reply, "oh if you insist!" 

Following this, the all male band left the stage as she launched into an exceptional performance of ‘Paper Heart', which is exactly what everyone had been waiting for. This striking performance truly showcased her vocal talent, and proved that she definitely does have the power to captivate and hold the audience all on her own.

Finally finding her passion and power once more, unfortunately a little late, but better late than never I guess, the band joined her on stage once more for a fantastic finale performance of ‘Breaking Bones,' from their 2006 self titled album, proving just how tight the band really can be when they all pull together as one.