On a cold Friday night in Auckland I found myself seeking out the warmth of Whammy Bar’s cavern, where Gareth Thomas was performing the last of his Fizzy Milk album release shows. I have to admit, the indie-pop/singer-songwriter genre isn’t really my scene; but I was happy to descend the stairs of Whammy with an open mind (and open ears), and was gladder for the experience.
Fizzy Milk is Gareth Thomas’s second solo album and the product of two years’ work. After two years of working on anything I’d be keen to get it out in the public eye, and this was evident in Gareth’s performance: from the first tune to the last it was obvious that he was passionate about the project, bringing an earnestness to the stage that was impossible to ignore.
The gig kicked off with “All Eyes in The Room”, the first track on the new album and a great introduction to the live show and the rest of the band (Amelia Murray, Jonathan Burgess and Tom Broome). It set the scene by showcasing the backbone of Gareth’s work, with the vocals sticking mainly in the upper register (in which he is clearly very comfortable) and the beat providing a mid/up-tempo, mellow, and chilled vibe. As the band moved through its set list, the gig retained its easy-going and up beat atmosphere without growing monotonous.
Probably the only thing that I didn’t quite get during the night was the visuals displayed on the screen behind the band – a solid green line that was evidently meant to fluctuate as they played. It just kind of did its own thing (and didn’t do very much of whatever that was). But it didn’t distract from the band or from the music at all – so maybe I’m just being nit-picky!
About half way through the gig, the band settled into “Some Teachers” and the Kiwiana flavours began to really show through. The tune immediately following that (“Way too Hot”) continued along that theme with its distinctly reggae feel – I felt like a summer festival set had been transplanted into Whammy, the lightly lilting music something I could imagine myself cranking on a road trip somewhere down the coast. “Music of the summer” Gareth said as the song ended.
Towards the end of the night Gareth did a solo rendition of “Google Song” which helped to break up the set and showcase his vocals; before launching into a rousing version of “Sophie” (even I knew this song, testament to the catchiness of his previous works). It was a great way to close out the night by bridging the past with the present.