Concert Review: Louis Baker & The APO – Auckland Town Hall, February 11, 2021

A beautiful venue, a full orchestra and a stunning vocalist…things seemed perfectly in place for a lovely night out in Auckland with Louis Baker and the APO.

Arriving at the Town Hall one could sense that this might be something special. The audience seemed to make an effort to look their best and the sound of the APO tuning their instruments added to the vibe.

Sure enough, the APO opened with their own short set…a tribute to acclaimed film composer Ennio Morricone, who passed away last year. Sitting up in the “cheap seats” the sound was glorious.

Then it was time for the main act. Louis Baker seemed to have emerged from Wellington dressed to impress. He was accompanied by a small band (drums, bass, guitar) and, of course, the APO.

The set opened with Henry Stone, a track from Baker’s 2014 self-titled EP. The band instantly gelled (I recognized bassist Marika Hodgson, but missed the names of the other two). And yes, Mr Baker’s voice sounded superb.

But as the set progressed, the energy level seemed to dissipate. This may be in part to the fact the Louis’ between-song banter was hard to hear (although the music was loud and clear). When I could make out what he said, it seemed somewhat inconsequential. His intro to Birds ran along the lines of something like, “this is a song about a girl I fell in love with”.

OK.

But then the swirling strings that set off Addict got my attention once more.

Eventually Esther Stephens and Laughton Kora joined the group to add BVs and guitar and all was good. There was a bit of guitar noodling during the intro to Prince’s Purple Rain, but then it gained steam.

There was one more guest…Nathan Haines seems to be everywhere these days, which is a good thing. He whipped out his flute on Baker’s new song, Love Levitates…definitely a highpoint of the evening.

The set ended with Rainbow and then a rousing The People, before audience members filed out to sip wine and buy merch.

It was a lovely evening, but I couldn’t help feeling that something was missing. After chatting to several other like-minded friends who were there we agreed that the only thing lacking was songs… real songs, that cut to the heart.

So hopefully next time around Mr Baker’s songwriting talents will catch up everything else he has to offer.

Marty Duda

Click here to view a full-size gallery of photos from Rachel Webb

Louis Baker set list:

  1. Henry Stone
  2. Alive
  3. Birds
  4. Addict
  5. Black Crow
  6. Brighter Day
  7. Purple Rain
  8. So Lo
  9. Just A Memory
  10. Love Levitates
  11. Rainbow
  12. The People
Marty Duda
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