GRAMSCI – LIVE @ ASB WATERFRONT THEATRE, AUCKLAND

GRAMSCI – LIVE @ ASB WATERFRONT THEATRE, AUCKLAND

It was a night like no other. Literally, as Auckland was revelling in Post-Covid Level One status, it opened the gig scene wide open. Not even the impending preamble to this year’s General Election was going to dismiss the smile off those in attendance – it was a truly beautiful sight.

WORDS BY WAL REID – PHOTOS BY PETER SWEETMAN

Equally as beautiful was the bold media show synced together with the musical force majeure of Auckland band Gramsci. Under the gaze of mainstay founder Paul McLaney, Gramsci, his kind of personal sobriquet, weaved his sonic genius to the audience, “Thank you, you’re so polite.” And they were too.

The exclamation of one punter shouting “Eruption”, a reference to Van Halen’s Eddie’s passing or the short intermittent bursts between songs from McLaney, had the crowd engaged from start to finish, as they meandered their way through their latest album Inheritance for its world premiere.

Armed with his formidable minstrels, stalwarts Jol Mulholland (guitar) and drummer Greg Havers, breathed to life the first songs penned in over fifteen years. Each track is given it’s personal AV slide show, the thin veil of gauze reflecting the video content thrown up and overlaying the band. This effective visual sleight of hand gave the show an extra dimension, enhancing the showgoer’s experience tenfold.

Alternative Pop tracks Atlas and the pop smooth of Ancient History were just two highlights of the night, where this ethereal visual and sonic assault worked very well. It’s a show quite unlike anything your sensory perceptions have experienced, whilst McLaney waxed lyrical about the privilege of “congregating” in these Covid times, it was a sombre reminder that not all was well with the world.

At times, I imagined Mark Hollis from the English Post Punk band Talk Talk as McLaney singing. The influence of the 80s reminiscent of the guitar riffing and pentatonic soloing, the ambient acoustic setting as McLaney dumbed the mood down, was powerful in simplicity. Here we heard the muse behind the music, captivating.

As the boys joined him back on stage to close out the set, my mind was already out on this one. Go see this show, it’s a chance to hear one of this country’s most underrated singer/songwriters, plus, a chance to hear one of the best new albums these ears have graced in a long time. Vote ‘two ticks’ Gramsci, you’ll see them back before the next three years, I’m sure of that.

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