Words by: Lydia Burgham
Photo supplied by: Chris Zwaagdyks
Thursday’s Auckland Town Hall performance from Broods was nothing short of a homecoming. The brother-sister duo returned to New Zealand in support of their latest album Don’t Feed The Pop Monster.
With the family origins of the band, it is fitting to view the success of Broods, both here and abroad, through the lens of a proud parent. Georgia and Caleb Knott have gone bigger, bolder, and yet still humbly remain the same act who burst through with their debut hit Bridges in 2014. In the wake of being dropped by two major labels, and wowing crowds with an opening slot on Taylor Swift’s Reputation stadium tour, the album is a triumph – a product of necessary innovation and momentum in terms of their sound and production. Visually and conceptually, the record touches on the narrow boxes pop artists are sometimes put into by major labels – the so-called “pop monster” is the manifestation of this cookie-cutter idea of popular music.
Broods have emerged from their brief era of uncertainty triumphant, performing to a near-capacity crowd. Georgia’s vocals reigned as clear cut as ever as they opened with the first track on Pop Monster “Sucker”. The crowd was warmed up and ready to dance thanks to a memorable performance by opening act Balu Brigada – whose cover of Kayne West’s Runaway was an electric moment for early-comers and set the tone for the evening.
Broods could have easily defaulted to performing their new record back-to-back, with a few of their hits sprinkled in for good measure. Instead the first half of their set was comprised of older material, much to the delight of their home crowd. It took me back to the first time I saw the pair live, in a tiny theatre in New Plymouth where the band toured in support of their first EP. Years later, amid rapid change to Broods’ career and the consumption of music, seeing them live again felt like coming home to me as much as it must have felt to them.
The show itself was flawlessly executed. A bright fluorescent light show lifted the vivid production of the songs and aided in the enthusiasm. Instruments helped mix things up too, with Georgia playing the keys during certain songs and busting out the guitar for others. Caleb shone during his anticipated performance of “Too Proud”, a track which gives way to a role reversal for the band, affording him the lead vocal spotlight.
Taking a breath in between the first few songs to address the crowd, Georgia was visibly overcome with emotion, and expressed her excitement she had of playing songs from the new album to New Zealand audiences. She isn’t one for long speeches and explaining the meaning behind songs, which has remained a constant throughout the act’s career. She lets her songs speak for her, and projects a voice strongly enough that an explanation would be redundant. Her stage presence is extroverted, but her persona is introspective.
Stand-out performances was an interlude in the group’s high energy set that saw Georgia pick up a classical guitar and perform album highlights Falling Apart and Dust. The tracks were just as dazzling in a live setting as they were on the record.
Squeezing in an encore of Couldn’t Believe, Broods exited the stage triumphant, and left behind a euphoric energy. Their new album may be a move to bigger and brighter sound, but they’re still the same old Nelson brother and sister New Zealand will always welcome back with open arms.