Concert Review: Marlowe, Looking For Alaska, Echo Children at Thirsty Dog, 1 May 2021

A debut & new single from Rupert MarloweLooking For Alaska and Echo Children getting some well-earned attention. The Thirsty Dog rocked out on Saturday night.

Rupert Marlowe is the débutante and goes first and that works out well. They all seem to have a fondness for Seventies and Eighties music and his new song Nostalgic seems to encapsulate it all.

Marlowe is actually making his debut as a solo performer with an acoustic guitar. Prior to this he has been a member of an Auckland Indie Rock outfit playing Post-Punk Grunge music.

Nostalgic on-stage tonight is stripped back and even more minimalist than the recorded version. Just before the show, he told me of the inspiration and influence he takes from Bruce Springsteen’s Nebraska. This sounds a lot like the quieter, haunted songs from that album, like State Trooper or My Father’s House.

So too is Alanis and Trippin’. Quiet, soft drone melodies and a measured voice which builds drama. The hypnotic rhythms underlying this style were drawn from the sounds of Avante- Punk Art Terrorists Suicide, by Spruce. And possibly here as well.

Opening song, No Diggity. Nice Outlaw Country melody and vocals and sounding a little like Steve Earle.

Follows with Jesus which is harsher. A Seattle Grunge sound with some good work coming from the acoustic guitar. I used to do things/ Jesus, I was evil. A low key unassuming vocal style which perfectly complements the quiet hooks that he puts into the songs.

30-Something lightens the mood and mixes some Folk sentiments into an upbeat Pop tune with a bit of Jonathan Richman naïve humour. When we were young, we used to laugh about the future.

Enthusiastic, warm response from a very supportive bunch at the Thirsty tonight.

Looking For Alaska

Looking For Alaska are gathering a lot of praise wherever they perform in recent years. Regulars around Folk clubs and festivals. There is a lot of older style Soul and R’n’B to their sound especially from singer Amy Maynard. Aaron Gott plays guitar and keyboards and has a fine Folk Pop vocal style.

Usually, they are two but tonight they have their occasional electric bass player who helps push the bottom out as the pub gets a lot noisier. Alcohol in effect.

All The Broken People sounds like early Seventies Blues Rock guitar with a vocal from Amy that gets a little more soulful as it progresses.

Whole Again and Home are quieter and typifies their Folk Pop sound. Melodic acoustic guitar chord progressions. A more Country vocal from Amy to which is added a little bit of Soul.

On Lily, the tempo is slowed down with the piano leading into a straight Soul ballad. The song builds to powerful emotive vocal peaks.

All those songs are off their most recent album, Light and Shadow.

They can combine Folk and Soul to great effect on You Only see Me When You’re Sleeping. Slow and dreamy to start and the riff sounds a little like Dylan’s Ballad of a Thin Man. Then it winds up the pace into a carnival atmosphere and some soulful belting vocals. That Pop Soul blend reminds old-timers like myself of Carla Thomas and the early days of Memphis Stax Soul.

This is the noisiest setting I have seen them and appropriately they close with Calling Out. Nice R’n’B guitar riffs and they lay out a nice rhythm groove to get a few young women to dance.

Echo Children

Echo ChildrenOn come Echo Children, also with good word-of–mouth and this is the first time I see them live. Oliver Young guitar and vocals, Amanda Larssen bass and vocals and Niamh O’Flynn drums with occasional guitar. All ex-pats. Scottish, Swedish and Canadian.

They have an Indie Pop sound with a nice retro and dare I say it nostalgic feel. English Psychedelic Folk of the late Sixties. Melodic American Pop from the likes of The Association and The Left Banke.

Calamine and Hail Mary have ringing guitars and pleasant mid-tempo rhythms as they lay down a soothing Folk Pop blend.

 Shame the Devil puts in a bit more Rock’n’Roll especially the rhythm section. Young has a distinctive and expressive Pop tenor.

Generally uplifting and feelgood Indie Pop and more people are enticed to dance.

Our Parents Fixed It All is slower and feels more atmospheric which takes some doing in the noisy setting. Drowning is also downbeat but swings with guitar chimes. Something strange about this house.

Finish their set on a high with Lumberjack. Great Pop with clever changes of pace and tone.

Marlowe impressed on his Nebraska-laden debut. The Echoes and the Alaskans are both classy Indie-Pop and Indie-Soul acts. All three are ones to look out for as no doubt they will be out and playing more dates as their reputations keep growing.

Rev Orange Peel