Concert Review: Graeme James – Tuning Fork August 13, 2021

It was four seasons in one night as Graeme James brought his Seasons Tour to Auckland’s Tuning Fork.

Having spent the past several years in Europe… specifically The Netherlands, folk singer Graeme James is back on home turf and we are all the richer for it.

As Covid hit, James was working on a 4-EP Project where the songs of each EP reflect or are inspired by each of the seasons. With the final instalment, Field Notes On An Endless Day (his meditations on summer) released July 30th, Graeme was ready to present them to a live audience.

This was a solo show in the truest sense of the word. Although he was surrounded by a myriad of instruments…guitars, mandolins, bass, tambourine, etc, they were all linked by his loop pedals, and so James was able to accompany himself with several instruments at once through the miracle of looping technology.

He gave a demonstration at the beginning of the show, leading into first song The Wild from the Field Notes EP.

By the time he explained, built the track and performed the song, we were well over 10 minutes into the set.

And the was format for the night…a story…a build-up and a song.

Fortunately Graeme James is an excellent story teller, both musically and orally.

To set the summer mood, we heard cicadas, we headed into autumn with the long, languid Western Lakes and we sang along to The Times Are Changing.

Once winter fell, things got suitably dark with No Memories Of Tomorrow and an epic version of The Voyage Of James Caird with another 12-minute pre-amble detailing the trials and tribulations of Earnest Shackleton and the crew of The Endurance  as they attempted to traverse Antarctica. This little bit of storytelling took an good half hour, but the audience was rapt.

Pascal Roggen - Graeme JamesThe mood was lightened when violin ace Pascal Roggen (Albi & The Wolves) was asked to hop on stage for a rousing Way Up High.

The show finished with one last song, signature tune, Alive, from 2016’s News From Nowhere.

Almost two hours in and we only got 10 songs…but that is not complaint as there were plenty of tall tales and we travelled musically from Antarctica to Otago to Europe.

A long, strange, exhilarating trip indeed.

Marty Duda

Click here to watch the 13th Floor MusicTalk interview with Graeme James

Click any icon to view a full-size gallery of images from the show

Graeme James setlist:

  1. The Wild
  2. To Be Found By Love
  3. Field Notes On An Endless Day
  4. The Difference
  5. Western Lakes
  6. The Times Are Changing
  7. No Memories Of Tomorrow
  8. The Voyage Of The James Caird
  9. Way Up High
  10. Alive