Apr 18, 2013
As many of you may know, I recently up and moved halfway across the country to a brand new city… to the bright lights of Auckland.
So I figured, what better way to start exploring the city than to go do one of my favourite things as a musician – go see some rocking live music! As luck would have it, I got an email from one of the Ticketek/Ticketmaster/Ticketchampion/Ticketmonger type websites saying that Coheed and Cambria were coming.
Yeah okay. Tickets were decently priced, but to be honest, I don’t know thaaat much about these guys.
Wait… opening act… The Heavy Metal Ninjas.
The Heavy Metal Ninjas
If you haven’t heard of these guys before, you’re in for a crushing wave of NZ-born instrumental shred led by Richie Allan, one of NZ’s most high profile guitarists, and a long-time Ibanez and Dimarzio endorsee. To top it off, I knew that Brandon Reihana (that nice chap who writes insane shred lessons for you guys, and oh, he can play like a motherfrakker too) had just joined HMN, so it seemed like the right thing to do to rock up to the gig and show my support!
Okay… so if you’re wondering why it looks like a SARS outbreak in there… well, it’s because they’re ninjas, duh. Yes, they’re actually bandana/face mask things, but no, no one cares because they’re just so awesome. And also, that crazy hand light gizmo thing – you can’t beat it.
Let me quickly put in a caveat here – I am unfortunately not intimately acquainted with the songs that any of the 3 bands that played last night, so I don’t actually know song names or anything like that. But who let’s that get in the way of a good vibe, right? “Real” reviewers get that shit jumbled and mixed up all the time anyway…
Anyway. So HMN came on… and good freaking Christ, everyone’s faces were melted.
Richie Allan showed exactly why he is one of the most respected guitarists in the country, with fluid lightning speed licks recalling the old masters like Steve Vai, and yet forged into something more brutal, more insistent and more punishing, supported by the crushing beats of Joe Brownless on drums and blistering riffs of Stu Kora and Brandon Reihana on guitars. Fran Kora kept driving the bassline while producing the most amazing facial expressions you’ll ever see.
Gear Geekout Moment:
Okay, we have to have this. It IS a guitar site afterall.
Gear spotted: Axe FX (Richie), HD300 or 400 (Fran DI-ing the bass by the looks of things) and HD500 for Brandon.
Guitars spotted: Ibanez JEM7RB, Ibanez RGD 7 string (the one with the thinner lower horn and extra scooped cutaway), Ibanez RG8, Ibanez S8
Feel free to add to the list, I’m sure I missed some stuff.
Jennie Skulander. Honestly. This is what happened the first time I heard them on the radio – “Oh hey, this is a pretty cool song, nice to have some female rock voca- ROAARRRRRRR – what the fuck?!” It was amazing. She can sing, she can freaking growl, and she’ s smoking hot. Perfect woman material? She might just be.
The rest of Devilskin is comprised of none other than Paul Martin from the Axe Attack on thunderous bass, his son Nic Martin on drums (at the tender age of 17, and a very clean cut young lad, he looks somewhat out of place) and a mysterious man they call The Nail on guitars. Oh and technically, they played first, but I got carried away talking about HMN so this is the order you get it in.
Now… Devilskin isn’t about being complicated, or being virtuosos. It’s good old fashioned dirty hard rock/metal, with sludgy, grooving riffs backed up by pounding drums, and of course fronted by Ms Skulander’s belting voice which could turn into a death growl at any given moment without warning.
Did they rock? Yes, they did. From the moment Jennie Skulander threw off her cape to reveal a bright red sequinned corset, she held everyone’s attention from start to finish. The Nail was solid as a rock with riff after punishing riff, getting GREAT tones from his setup – which should remind us all that snobbery and boutique gear aren’t prerequisites for good tone – but more on that later.
Paul Martin was a devilish pink-bearded twin to The Nail, growling aggressive basslines throughout the set on his Dean bass, while his son kept the driving beat steadily coming.
Gear Geekout Moment:
Gear spotted: Marshall DSL halfstack, and Paul looked like he was going through a Marshall head of some sort for his bass? I couldn’t see it from where I was. The Nail was using a simple, effective setup of a Boss ME50 multi-effects board and what looked like an Ibanez TS9 Tubescreamer. His guitar tones were huge, and reminded me of Zakk Wylde, especially his chorus-infused lead tones.
Guitars spotted: The Nail used a Gibson LP Studio loaded with EMGs, further strengthening the Zakk Wylde vibe.
Coheed and Cambria
After two brilliant opening acts, the main act came onstage.
So. Much. Hair.
Claudio Sanchez is a really interesting frontman – he somehow manages to combine playing complex, constantly moving riffs while singing in his distinctive, high voice. And when he’s not singing, he’s EVERYwhere all over the stage like a gigantic-haired ball of lightning. Stage presence aside, I must admit I didn’t immediately “get” all of the songs (though this could have something to do with being directly in the line of fire of the two Mesa 4×12″ cabs the whole time), but funnily enough I really enjoyed the quieter ones, as well as some of the heavier stuff. The crowd obviously LOVED it though, and were chanting and singing along at every opportunity.
Guitar player Travis Sever was solid but I didn’t actually get to see that much of him from my side of the stage. Drummer Josh Eppard was a monster, managing to break a few sticks and a tom skin within the first song or two, as well as sending a wingnut from one of the cymbals flying!
New bass player Zach Cooper held his bass really really high and grooved it out through a Fender 8×10 stack of some sort.
Gear Geekout Moment:
Gear spotted: More Axe-FX! Both guitar rigs were Axe-FXs (I think), and they had near duplicate floor rigs of Voodoo Labs switchers and two Mission Pedals expression pedals, one for whammy and one for wah.
Guitars spotted: Claudio used a succession of Gibson Explorers while Travis used a LP Custom for most of the night, at one point switching to a Goldtop Standard with a Bigsby.
And that was my first gig at the Powerstation in Auckland! Had a great time, though it was pretty damn difficult to get out of bed the next morning for work. I’ll definitely be going to see Devilskin and HMN again though – you should always support local talent, especially if it’s kick. ass.
Were you there? Share your thoughts with us! Most people there were obviously much better informed and hardcore fans, so I’m keen to hear what you thought!
Oh, and there are heaps more pics right here on our Facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.328496390606659.1073741828.179183062204660&type=1
Also, for all you HMN fans, stay tuned to the website because next week we have an EXCLUSIVE interview with those crazy shredders, just for you!