Concert Review with PHOTOS: Shihad


By Jake Ebdale

Artist: Shihad with Villainy & Kora

Date / Venue: Friday October 26th, 2018 - Town Hall, Auckland

Shihad have turned 30 – who woulda thunk it? We’re lucky to get a good decade out of our best groups before they implode spectacularly – think Split Enz, Crowded House, Hello Sailor or the Mint Chicks – but to hit three of them is pretty special, and Shihad have had their best years with the same four blokes. It probably helps that they are New Zealand’s greatest proper band.

You could argue for days what that ‘best band’ criteria may entail, but in terms of four guys smashing out songs with (mainly) guitars and drums, well, the ‘Had takes the cake. This 30thanniversary concert, one of many scheduled around Aotearoa, had them in pure bliss, elder rock statesmen pumping out hits both heavy and harmonious, treating the fans to something from every album.

As Shihad have turned 30, it makes sense they’ve already had a few illegitimate children.

Villainy and Kora opened proceedings, the former, sleek, Larkin-endorsed commercial radio rock still fails to push my buttons; the latter still burnin’ and earnin’, but for Laughton I’m yearnin’. Both groups were definitely a perfect fit for the multifaceted fans of Shihad, as The Rock 1500, Kora’s first album and ‘Home Again’ mix together perfectly, like a summer’s BBQ featuring snarlers, beer and backyard cricket.

Shihad’s commercial peak, 1999’s The General Electric – the one before that name-change nadir – has recently been issued on wonderful multi-coloured vinyl, so that album got the greatest slice of the pie last night. Its four monstrous singles– ‘Pacifier’, ‘My Mind’s Sedate’, ‘The General Electric’ and ‘Wait and See’ – never fail to ignite the audience.

Sure, frontman Jon Toogood falls on the same rawk tropes occasionally – I’ve “waved my fuckin’ arms in the air” to ‘Pacifier’ for a whole gig accumulatively –  but those big TGE songs still mean something to so many people, including this reviewer. 

And how lucky were we to get the thrashy opening tune, ‘Factory’, from debut Churn. Not to mention some biggies (‘You Again’, ‘Deb’s Night Out’) from their 1995 masterpiece, Killjoy. When they want, the band still possesses that grunty, chuggy, slightly off-kilter guitar tone that made them local superstars in the ‘90s, capable of jamming the biggest bogans against the D barrier at Big Day Out. It is a wonderful thing to behold in concert. Their most recent outing, FVEY, even brought back some of that fire, with ‘Think You’re So Free’ being a current set highlight and killer opener. And, yes, there’s always ‘Home Again’. Who couldn’t love that fishy song?

There’s also modern Shihad to wade through too, and anything from 2002’s Pacifier up to 2010’s Ignite starts blurring into one big government-funded Toogood chorus. There are some great singles in there, though, including the anthemic ‘Run’, their return-to-roots rooter ‘Alive’, overly angry ‘All the Young Fascists’ and the new order of ‘One Will Hear the Other’. But, shit, hearing those loopy strains of ‘Deb’s Night Out,’ just takes me backman! Wallet chains, Doc Martens and badly dubbed cassette tapes!

So, yeah, you’ve got me. I’m a sucker for ‘90s nostalgia and ‘90s Shihad. But most of the nearly two-hour set really hit, everything sequenced immaculately. Toogood is still the consummate performer; Karl the affable bass guy; Phil the yoghurt-loving metal head; Tom Larkin, farkin’ beautiful drumming, ya lark! Shihad are still at the top of the heap.

So, in a nut, another great show, not dissimilar to their Meanest Hits set a few years back, but with some choice FVEY material in tow and a big ol’ slice of General Electric. Here’s to another 30 years and the Geriatric Electric tour. New Zealand bloody loves you guys!