Friday, 6 April 2012

Gig Review - Gin Wigmore (04/04/12)

Gin Wigmore (04/04/12)
Live at Black Bear Lodge, Brisbane.
Supported by: The Blackwater Fever.

A weekly trip to the Black Bear Lodge seems to have become a regular occurrence. It's quickly become my favourite live music destination in Brisbane with their ability to book incredibly talented performers who attract good crowds that create a fun atmosphere. And they serve Sailor Jerry Rum. I love me some Sailor Jerry's. With a tasty beverage in hand, I headed towards the stage to await the arrival of one of New Zealand's most loved singer-songwriters, Gin Wigmore.

I must admit, I wasn't overly familiar with Ms. Wigmore's catalogue before heading to see her live. Sure, I heard and loved 'Black Sheep' on Grey's Anatomy (don't you judge me!) and 'Man Like That' is currently sitting pretty in our Top 20, but other than that there wouldn't have been much else I could tell you about her. When a friend offered a spare ticket to see Wigmore perform live, I jumped at the chance. Partly because I love seeing any live music, partly because I thought it would be nice to objectively review an act without knowing too much about them (thus eliminating my standard bias) and mostly because I'm cheap and the ticket was offered for free.

Sometime around 8.15 the support act for the evening, The Blackwater Fever, took to the stage. With an arsenal of guitar driven tracks, this Brisbane three-piece quickly caught the attention of the audience. To say I was impressed with their mini-set is a massive understatement. They received what seemed like a generous amount of time for a supporting band and didn't waste a second of it, powering through each crowd pleasing number. Their bluesy/grungey sound contains subtle nods to a huge array of big name acts (Pearl Jam, The Black Keys, Nick Cave), but this is no covers band. The Blackwater Fever's influences may be easy to pick, but their music remains original and, for lack of a better word, awesome. Definitely a band to check out if you see them touring near you.

With The Blackwater Fever's set complete, the four Australian's in the audience and the bajillion fans from New Zealand prepared for the arrival of Gin Wigmore and her band. Just after 9:30, our leading lady and her band took to the stage. Looking more grunge-rocker in a T-Rex tee and jeans than the jazzy flapper I was expecting, Gin and the boys enthusiastically jumped right in and the crowd was loving it. Wigmore's voice was really something. Never would I have expected it to sound as good live as it does recorded, but it actually managed to surpass the recorded quality. There was a moment of, "wait, is she miming?" and if you've seen her perform you'd be right there with me. It seemed too good to be true, it was true and it was outstanding.

You want to know how to make a Brisbane crowd love you? Tell them they're better than the Sydney one you played for last week. Works like an absolute charm I tell you. Wigmore played that card to perfection, but really she shouldn't have bothered. Each song ended with a louder roar of support and there appeared to be many a long-time fan fist-pumping all of the songs from first album, Holy Smoke. Personally, I was enjoying the show for the first couple of songs, but it was the one-two punch of 'These Roses' and 'If Only' that really got me invested in the performance. A bit of banter from Gin about the breakdown of her relationship with an 'insert swear-word' dull as 'insert swear-word' accountant (and one audience members vocal dismissal of the story as, "an absolute lie") preceded the engrossing ballad 'These Roses' which held the full attention of those in the room. When I say, "full attention," I mean the room was silent except for the breathtaking performance coming from the stage. This carried on into the following number, 'If Only,' another captivating ballad with a chorus paying homage to the classic unrequited love songs of the 1960s. From here on in, I was 100% sold on Gin Wigmore.

'Black Sheep' and 'Man Like That,' the two big 'makes you wanna dance' anthems from new album, Gravel and Wine, would bring the audience energy right back up. These two tracks were the polar opposites of the ballads; fast-paced, cat-call inspiring, songs you want to sing along to and songs that will get you on your feet. At the Black Bear Lodge, getting people on their feet seems to be a slight issue. Everyone likes to sit down, chill out and act like they're at a Cold Chisel concert on the hills of the Brisbane Riverstage. Gin Wigmore did a good job of drawing everyone to their feet and eventually had the boozed up New Zealanders dancing along for the final numbers. I may have even tapped my left foot to the rhythm. The other three Australian's... not sure what they were doing. I joke. 

A nice little encore sent everyone off with a smile on their face and this reviewer left in love with yet another female singer-songwriter from New Zealand. Such a tiny nation deserves a medal for churning out such talent. Gin Wigmore put on a very satisfying set that showed off her impressive voice, a wide range of the different musical styles she like to dabble in and a group of seasoned musicians that look like they're loving every minute of being on stage. I haven't been able to stop listening to Gravel and Wine since the show and I'm pretty sure it's going to be on high rotation for quite some time. You should check it out too!


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