The Situations & The Transistors – Golden Dawn (Concert Review)

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As Golden Dawn sheds it golden hue on the evening it’s clear that there’s great comradery between the bands on tonight’s bill. That spirit is carried through the evening as The Situations, The Transistors and The Low Fidelity play the third of the their four gig NZ tour supporting the release of The Situations’ new albumForever Scene Changes and The Transistors’ new EP Cuppa Jarra Bossa. It makes for a friendly, intimate and truly enjoyable evening.

The Lowest Fidelity are the latest band incarnation of Will Saunders, a tight three piece incorporating a rhythm section made up of a couple of Situations, they set the scene with a short set of blistering punk psych, inviting the audience into their world of 60s inflected, post punk strange dreams. The new single, the trashy Lovers and Dreamers starts the set with Saunders, a kind of love child of Arthur Lee and Carl Barat, insistent in his delivery; passionate and honest and getting the appreciative Golden Dawn in the mood.  Their new single is a great example of Saunders’ song writing, filled with hooks and a nod to classic British bands. There is a chaotic start to Listen to Liesthat builds to a wonderful, unrelenting crescendo. Wicked Love adds a soulful edge to the otherwise sharp and punky set and Three Times a Day, a cheeky nod to obsessive love finishing the set. The Low Fidelity reached high places.

The Transistors are up next and power straight into the single and lead track onCuppa Jarra Bossa, Confidence Man, with drummer Olly on vocals and getting everyone up and paying attention. As usual they take no prisoners with their fast pace and frenetic energy.  Country Music is up next before they kick into High Hopes. Their set is a mix of tracks from the new record, 2013’s Is This Anything and a handful of new tracks. Cashel Street is a heartfelt ode to their hometown Christchurch and the impacts of the earthquake and highlights their skill in using casual observations of growing up and the people and things around them, and it gets a great response from the crowd. For the first time I hear a connection between them and the sound from the photo 1town just south of them, Dunedin. There sound is maturing and broadening without losing any of what always made them a great band. Hungry is one of my favourites of the night with Colin’s bass lead break making the song jump out while Olly tells a tale of continuous consumption and never ending hunger while James ends up in the crowd. The set finishes with two songs from Is This Anything, Dirty Diver with its head nodding, Fugazi like guitar riff and then finally Nervous Heart delivering classic Transistors three chord singalong with Olly delivering Mick Jones-like oooooh-aaaaahs over the lead vocals and the crowd is bouncing.  The Transistors are pretty much the best three chord (maybe four) band around. James makes his allegiances clear introducing the next band up, The Situations, as “NZ’s best band”.

The Situations also start their set with their new single and lead song from new album Forever Scene Changes, Hamburg a tale of guitarist/ multi-instrumentalist Glen/Coob’s lost night in said city during a previous European tour and it sets the groove for the night. Brothers Stu and Sam are the rhythm section back bone of the band and keep things tight and loose, if you know what I mean. They then move into probably my favourite Situations song and single from last year, Guns which rollicks along at a pace with Sam taking over lead vocals and delivering its classic pop punk melody. What you know you’ll get with Situations is a mix up of lead vocalists, changing instruments and general shenanigans and the next song mixes things up with Coobs linking up with Kendall to deliver What Is Love, an authentic country song duet with Kendall’s vocals photoparticularly shining through. The Situations are multifaceted and have a wide range of styles and mid-set is PCY’s Everlasting Journey with Coobs delivering an organ driven ode to love filled with biblical references. Stu keeps the audience amused with inter song banter with band members and audience alike emphasising the likeability and connection the band has.Suburban Girl takes us back to the power pop with more showcasing of the level of vocal harmonies they can deliver, just layers of great vocals. Idle is another classic with hints of many bands from 1979, everything from the Buzzcocks to Joe Jackson. But it’s never possible to say that the Situations sound like anyone else. They manage to channel a whole range of influences and inflections without sounding anything other than themselves.

James Transistor is called up onstage to deliver vocals on a song covered on their first album, co-penned by John Baker for his band Pyscho Daisies Fast Food, and soon ends up with guitarist Brad on his shoulders thankfully restrained by the tightest stage in Auckland. Then Coobs is back on vocals telling tales of flooded flats, rats and runaway children in Trippy Gypsy before the set comes to an end with Kendall, front and centre again, delivering a flawless take on Ike and Tina’sFool in Love, which is testament to the bands’ musical ability and their ability to transform themselves into whatever the song happens to need.

Punters stream, satisfied and happy, into the gentle rain outside the Golden Dawn no doubt humming a tune or two while the members of the bands gather together to continue enjoying each other’s’ company late into the night.

Jake Harding