There was no busting through the doors into the Corner Hotel’s band room, as is typical of a Friday night. In fact, when patrons walked in they were curiously guided down a curtained off corridor, past a memorabilia shop, and finally into the band room where patrons were greeted with tables and chairs – complete with little tea lights set up.
Was this really the dingy old Corner? Whatever it was, it set up a relaxed and intimate mood.
Sarah Mary Chadwick quietly crept onstage unnoticed – until she started playing out of nowhere. Chadwick’s loud and powerful, yet painfully miserable vocals were teamed with a background electric guitar accompaniment, which she somehow managed to continue to play despite her obvious suffering.
Chadwick’s shrill pain seemed to treble, given that he audience was originally invited into a relaxing and warm room. It was almost cruel to suck the room dry of that warm fuzzy feeling.
Chadwick’s vocals verged on monotone, however they occasionally gleamed with the strongest of New Zealand accents – giving her stories of extreme heartache an almost relatable edge. One woman in the audience exclaimed that Chadwick was “brave in her opening up”. The pilgrimage that Chadwick took the audience through was so miserable it was a relief when she finally walked off stage.
Because of his obvious influence from psychedelic and folk music from the 1960s and 1970s, Jonathan Wilson had been described to sit somewhere between Neil Young’s Harvest and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon. However it was clear from the very start of his set that this description was ill fitting, and almost insultingly simple for his complex, unique sounds, exotic instrumentals and North Carolinian drawl.
Yes, he is clearly influenced by Southern folk, rock and psychedelic music from the era, however, he has successfully carved his own personable style from his influences.
The only way to describe Wilson’s performance would be to try to explain the surreal journey he and his band took the audience through.
His 2011 album, Gentle Spirit, did not prepare for the live expedition at all. In fact each and every song was embellished with tantalising and phantasmagorical guitar solos that delivered the complexity with ease and brilliance. In fact, it would nearly be fair to go as far as to say that his live set is tenfold better than his album.
Wilson’s opening song, ‘Can We Really Party Tonight?’ asked the audience to “follow me down to the divine lakes”. With that, the room was off – experiencing tastes and samples of a variety of musical genres, from the aforementioned to the unexpected – including jazz, and surf sounds.
Most people for at least one moment of the night caught themselves swaying with their eyes closed allowing the folksy-psychedelic-melodic guitars to consume every part of their bodies. Where the fuck had Wilson taken us?
One old school rocker in the crowd mentioned between songs, “These guys play like massive rock stars – I haven’t heard anyone play like this in ages.” You can’t judge a book by its cover, but in turning to look at this bloke, he appeared to have been to his fair share of gigs. His comments seemed to fit the room’s mood and opinions spot on.
The night finished with a long drawn out version of the hallucinatory ‘Valley Of The Silver Moon’ – where the onslaught of swirling and mind-expanding instrumentals set the audience off on one last out-of-this-world journey into the unknown. It was perhaps the perfect ending to a spectacular set of music.
- Tara Emily