06 September 2011

Live Review: TrinityRoots at Powerstation Fri 2 Sept

This week sees the launch of a brand new weekly street press title: Volume is edited by Sam Wicks (a scholar & a gentleman, both) and features interviews, reviews and plenty of opinion about music - good and bad. But mostly good. As evidenced by Issue #1 cover stars, Drab Doo-Riffs.

I've had the good fortune to be invited to write for the mag (#shamelessselfpromotion), and even managed to sneak into the debut issue with a live review of the recent TrinityRoots gig at Auckland's Powerstation...

With Tyra Hammond and The Bluebirds
The Powerstation, Auckland
Friday 2 September

TrinityRoots' third coming saw a refigured lineup looking to continue the legacy of one of New Zealand's best-loved bands. The diversity of the crowd underlined the esteem in which Trinity are held, with their fresh blend of deep roots reggae and psychedelic rock only part of their appeal. That undeniable bro-ish charm is undoubtedly another part; yet these are jazz school alumni with serious musical chops, unafraid of stretching songs live every which way. So shit was hype. Anticipation was high. And due to one of the founding members leaving the band only a few months ago, there was genuine excitement: who the fuck was going to replace sticks man Riki Gooch?

Opening act Tyra Hammond and The Bluebirds didn't so much heighten anticipation, as cause a certain amount of restlessness. Everyone loves each of those guys - and Tyra is a genuine star - but a handful of seemingly hurriedly put together blues covers did them no favours. Thankfully they closed with a couple of tracks taken from the Opensouls' excellent Standing In The Rain album.

Any concerns about the punters' attentions spans were dashed the instant TrinityRoots took the stage, opening with an expansive version of Two By Two. It must've been terrifying for new drummer Jean Pompey to step into this scene, but she showed no sign of nerves, as she set about pummeling her drums right from the outset. Lacking the power of Gooch, she made up for it with her dexterous and busy playing; and the group sounded as cohesive as ever, if not more so. Her warm vocals were a welcome addition, and the harmonies she, frontman Warren Maxwell and bass player Rio Hunuki Hemopo cooked up (alongside the shadowy figure of Mark Vanilau, who also added keys and guitar) stepped the sound to another level. Indeed, an unexpected highlight was Pompey singing Dawn Penn's No, No, No from behind the drums.

From a loping, lolloping ride through The Dream, a fiercely dubby version of Egos and an outstanding reading of Home, Land & Sea, it was clear to the adoring crowd that, even without one of their cornerstones, TrinityRoots are still capable of laying down music that breaks through barriers, transcends age and race, and unites those who really care to listen. Amen.

This review was originally pubished in issue #001 of Volume magazine, 6 Sept. 2011

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