Hemi Hemingway & The Snowflakes – Whammy Backroom: July 1, 2023

Hemi Hemingway

Hemi Hemingway (what a name!) and The Snowflakes came up from Wellington to perform their first show in Auckland. Hemi (aka Shaun Blackwell) made every minute count and the crowd was swooning by the end of the night.

Hemi Hemingway is a Kiwi who has spent some time in the UK but is back in Wellington. He has released one 6-track EP, titled The Lonely Hunter and has a full-length album on the way.

The Snowflakes, I believe, are also from Wellington, but that’s about all I can tell you about them, except that did an excellent job of helping Hemi bring his songs to life.


The night (finally) got underway with Bub. I say ‘finally’ because doors were advertised to open at 8 with the show starting at 8:30. But in reality Bub started playing at 9:35. I know it’s a Saturday night and I want the venue to make money selling drinks, but the wait seemed a bit excessive.

Fortunately Bub was worth the wait.

By the time they started with their 2021 debut single King Of Wands, the room had filled up nicely and front person Priya Sami had a good audience to play to. Also on stage was Priya’s sister Anji (on keyboards)  and brother-in-law Jeremy Toy (on drums)…Jeremy and Anji are also She’s So Rad…and long time Bub bassist Daniel Barrett was helping to anchor the rhythm section.

We got six songs over the course of thirty minutes along with plenty of banter from Priya, who claimed she should be on Ritalin. She wasn’t, and her slightly unhinged stage presence only added to the fun. “Are we cancelled, yet?” she asked.

Look for a new album, hopefully, in September.

Hemi Hemingway

Hemi Hemingway & The Snowflakes

By the time Hemi and his Snowflakes took the stage, the room was packed and anticipation was high. The four-piece (drums, guitar, bass, keys) and Hemi came on with a crashing fanfare that led into Burnin’ Blue, the lead track from the EP, with the black-clad Hemi looking like a young Nick Cave with curls. The four snowflakes were all dressed appropriately in white.

Hemi’s sound can best be described as a mix of doo-wop/girl group/Roy Orbison/Ricky Nelson and Chris Isaak…heavy on angst and melodrama, but also poetry and melody.

Hemi slipped into falsetto during The Lonely Hunter before presenting us with two recently released tunes…Green Envy and Along In The Morning Alley…giving a fair representation of what to expect when the album finally ‘drops’.

I must say I really enjoyed hearing the sax being played but the keyboard player during Green Envy and set-closer My Lover, A Strange Her. Kudos to the guitarist who added some edge to Hemi’s smooth sounds.

“Sometimes I wonder where we went wrong”, it a theme that’s launched a thousand songs and Hemi knows how to tap into those dark moments.

At 11:00pm Hemi had sung his final song of the night. Or so we thought.

But as The Snowflakes melted into the crowd, Hemi remained on stage, acoustic guitar in hand, and absolutely nailed Chris Isaak’s Wicked World.

There was much swooning and hearts were fluttering as Hemi Hemingway made his Auckland debut one not to forget.

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view photos from the show.

Hemi Hemingway set list:

  1. Burnin’ Blue
  2. The Lonely Hunter
  3. Green Envy
  4. Alone In The Morning Alley
  5. Hemi’s Lament
  6. Hopelessly Dependent On You
  7. It’s So Hard To Say Goodbye
  8. My Lover, A Strange Her
  9. Wicked Game
Bub setlist:
  1. King Of Wands
  2. Phase Two
  3. Girl
  4. Jeez Louise
  5. New Amsterdam
  6. Dreams


Marty Duda
Follow us!