Concert Review: Marlon Williams

Photo By Megan Moss

Photo By Megan Moss


By Lisa Diedricks

Artist: Marlon Williams

Date / Venue: Friday May 25th, 2018 - Town Hall, Auckland

You probably clicked on the link we left you, because you thought there was going to be a Marlon Williams show review waiting for you right? Well ladies and gentleman, I have some bad news, there is no "show" to speak of: no fancy lights or backdrop, no dancers to distract the eyes. Perfectly enough, Williams' voice is the breathtaking centrepiece his band worked to augment but never consume.

On paper, Marlon Williams is a prominent and well known alt- country, folk and bluegrass singer from Lyttelton, New Zealand. Performing his Make Way For Love album tour last night in Auckland for the first time, Williams exclaims “...this is the biggest crowd we’ve ever played for...” Make Way for Love finds Williams unleashing his inner nightingale and brings to mind some of the worlds greats in presence like Presley, lyric style of Cass McComb or voice like Richard Hawley. But then on songs such as Beautiful Dress and The Fire of Love Williams has a commanding, atmospheric, evenly matched falsetto that recalls his ex Aldous Harding or NZ’s own Tami Neilson in some moments.

When an individualistic sound like Marlon Williams comes along, you sit and listen. His music extends to the generations that poured over last night into Auckland's Town Hall, which was a sold out show. It was evident that such diversity can we celebrated in the likes of his beautiful sounding artist. but with such wow factor that Williams holds, how do you upload the interest and respect for audiences of various ages? You embody some the most mesmerising lyrical and tone acrobats that leave the entire Town Hall, standing dead still, falling silent to hear that voice radiate through out.

The 27-year-old musician demanded the stage with this captivating charisma, wearing a suit and tie, shiny shoes and hair slicked back so perfect you would think he was a 60s sitcom. He embraced the audience and looked them in the eye every time he talked, he had this crowd under his spell as people young and old, merged into his stage enticement. Williams seemed at ease, even though this was, as mentioned before, his biggest show ever. But the lad swung back a Heineken, strummed his guitar and thanked everyone in the building for coming and supporting him and the band. He is a natural instinctive performer, full of charm, and 100% smooth. He delivered high recognition and gratitude to his back-up band and deservedly so, as they were much of the show as her was. Playing synths, keyboard, bass, drums, guitar and backing vocals through out the night, their synchronic relationship had be overwhelmed at times as I found myself lost in their musical talents.

He played songs from his latest album Make Way For Love, which was written immediately and sole about a breakup and broken relationship. With a few of his older works, coming in, and also a cover of Barry Gibbs' Carried Away and Yoko Ono's Nobody Sees Me Like You Do, which, in my opinion, were better than the originals. But that’s just me being biased and loving when artists like Williams, turns something already so beautiful into something you didn’t know would work. “Can I Call You” haunted me in a way I was not expecting, theres one liners in there that captivated me entirely. A crown favourite was “Party Boy” so much that a man in the back screamed at Marlon to play it, and in response Willians replied with laughter “in due time mate..” His voice is truely something spectacular and at times peculiar, but you just cant help but be tuned in till that last note.

I spoke to a hear of non-first timers at the show, to get their take on how they thought the show was going, I was interested, as this was my first time seeing him live and thought it had exceeded my expectations. “it’s not as intimate as it used to be, it’s very commercial” “the acoustics aren’t that great this time round, his band is a lot louder than him, so if you’re not familiar with his lyrics, there was no way you would be able to hear every word” - were a few of the comments I got, another big one being “his mic control has gotten a bit better this time around, but the acoustics hid that quite a lot” Seems like the OG show goers had a lot to say this time around. Which you can expect to see as smaller, intimate and subjective artists get a bigger fanbase or are exposed more on the commercial side of things. I think Williams will always have his loyal and day one following, but there is no denying that he is getting bigger and bigger every year.

I would be going around in circles if I keep talking about his performance, but the man deserves to get every bit of my appreciation. I love going to shows, and I’ve mentioned this before, where stage gimmicks are not for me. Don’t get me wrong, I like them, and if it adds a sense of accompany for the artist on stage then do you boo. But when musicians such as Marlon take on a stage, like last night, all you see are instruments and a few lights to set the mood. There’s a sense of educated artistry that fills me when I see performances like these, as all I am paying attention too are the voices and the music being produced live for me on stage. I’m not distracted by anything, my phones not constantly in my hand, I’m 100% engaged and undoubtedly in awe of what is happening in front of me. And that’s exactly what Marlon did for last night.

Sadly, if you missed out last nights show and tonights show here in Auckland, the shows are sold out, but it would be humble obligation to express the need to see this man live! Even if his style of music isn’t particularly yours, if you’re music lover, you will respect this mans voice and presence on a stage.