The Bads – Tuning Fork July 7, 2017


The Bads presented their latest album, Losing Heroes, to a roomful of fans and fellow musicians last night at Auckland’s Tuning Fork, proving, once again, that they are gems in New Zealand’s musical crown.

It’s always a good sign when you notice other musicians showing up to see an artist, and that was certainly the case here. I spotted Eddie Raynor, Tim Finn Paul McLaney, Nadia Reid, Kendall Elise milling around before the show.

Things got underway with a solo set from former Hello Sailor founding member Harry Lyons. Harry revealed that he has been working on an album of his own with Delaney Davidson producing.

In case you’re not familiar…the Bads consist of core members Dianne Swann and Brett Adams, who write and sing the songs and play guitar. Brett and Dianne have been making music together since the early 1990s resulting in a collaboration that has taken them from making indie-pop in London to Americana here in New Zealand. Both are wonderful songwriters and vocalists with Brett’s guitar-playing skills world-class.

The new album, recorded with Ben Edwards at his Sitting Room Studio in Lyttelton, combines both of those elements…the alt-indie and the alt-country…with stunning results.

The rest of the band consists of drummer Wayne Bell and multi-instrumentalist Dave Khan, with former Goldenhorse member Ben King taking over bass duties from Mike Hall, who was also in attendance.

It’s clear Brett and Dianne are proud of their new album (they should be) and they played all 11 tracks over the course of their show beginning with Crash and Burn. It’s a song that encapsulates the whole album. There’s a bit of country twang as Dianne sings about flying out of Nashville, then Brett chimes in with his first solo of the evening conjuring up a slightly psychedelic sound as he has his way with his fretboard.

The following tune, Get It Right, is equally enthralling, featuring a jagged guitar intro, a start/stop rhythm and Brett and Dianne’s harmonies, managing to sound both familiar and new at the same time.

This segued into the dreamy Planets, complete with sun-kissed harmonies and a seductive lead vocal from Brett.

The two front people took turns introing songs and singing lead while the rest of the band supported admirably. Dave Khan’s fiddle-playing skills were on display during Spinning Wheels Turning Tides and later, during Heartbreak Beach.

With all the musicians in the audience, one was bound to end up on stage, and it turned out to be Tim Finn, who, along with his son Harper, who played keyboards, led the band through a stately version of Dylan’s I Shall Be Released and then Finn’s own Dirty Creatures, the latter giving the rhythm section of Bell and King, something to sink their teeth into.

Only two of The Bads’ older songs made the cut, the bouncy, upbeat California and set-closer Good Lies, both sounding excellent.

But the band was committed to the new album, and returned to play the final two tracks, Heartbreak Beach and West.

Brett Adams ended the night with one last blast from his guitar, throwing out a killer solo at the end of West, proving what everyone in the room knew, that he is indeed the finest guitar player in the land.

The only disappointing aspect of the evening was the fact that this show did not sell out.

It’s hard to imagine a better value for the $20 it cost for tickets…beautifully crafted songs, exquisite vocals and instrumental prowess that is second to none.

Unfortunately the music business is all about the next big thing and here in New Zealand that favours acts such as Aldous Harding, Nadia Reid and…Lorde.

Don’t get me wrong, they all deserve all the success they can get, but an act that has been around, making consistently great music for over two decades, tends to get taken for granted.

This was the first of The Bads’ seven shows promoting Losing Heroes. Do yourself a favour and be sure to see them if you can.

Marty Duda

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Michael Flynn:


The Bads set list:

  1. Crash and Burn
  2. Get It Right
  3. Planets
  4. Shelter Love
  5. Calling Home
  6. Spinning Wheels Turning Tides
  7. California
  8. Losing Heroes
  9. Him & Her
  10. Same House
  11. I Shall Be Released
  12. Dirty Creatures
  13. Good Lies
  14. Heartbreak Beach
  15. West