José González

By Jake Ebdale

Artist: José González

Date / Venue: Wednesday February 3rd, 2016 - St. James Theatre, Auckland

José González emerged after an impressive set by Kiwi songstress Lydia Cole, ambling out on stage, slightly sullen, very humbled by the applause. In a short-sleeved shirt and looking much younger than a man close to 40, Gonzalez played a great but conservative set that focused on his latest album, Vestiges And Claws.

The greatest thing about the gig was the band's chemistry. Gonzalez's guitar tone was perfect, soothing, his voice like warm salted butter, and some of the material, much more sparse on their host LPs, benefited from the full-band arrangements.

Playing the Veneer favourites ‘Crosses' and ‘Deadweight on Velveteen' early in the set, it was that debut album's material which drew the largest pop from the unfortunately undersold crowd, but deservedly so - this guy has largely followed the same blueprint across three albums, and Veneer was by far the most successful, borrowing Nick Drake and Ani DiFranco-like songwriting and adopting it for a much younger audience.

So then, Gonzalez has always been a torchbearer for pretty, solemn acoustic-based tunes, and has largely made his name through left-field cover choices (The Knife's ‘Heartbeats' and Massive Attack's ‘Teardrop') but for 90 minutes on end, it ends up being slightly monotonous. The songs, whether Junip covers or the 2007 highlight ‘Killing For Love', were lovely, but I'd still take Pink Moon or Solid Air any day. And definitely the original ‘Teardrop'.

A very safe, good-enough gig from Mr Gonzalez.