Monday, May 10, 2021

Show Review Sends Chills

New Zealand correspondent Duncan has been to a show. Yes, a show. He's going to use terms like Indian summer and being out on a patio too. Let's control our envy and imagine a time when we are all seeing our favorite bands together again. Take it away, Duncan...

The Chills
Meow Club
7 May 2021

Friday treats us to a rare, warm Wellington autumn evening, and we're all determined to enjoy this last vestige of an Indian summer. The crowd has spilled out onto the Meow Club's patio and the road, as people enjoy a drink or two before the show. This is my third time seeing Martin Phillips (either with or without his Chills) in the last four years, and it would be easy to start taking the band for granted. But tonight they are simply excellent. In fact, I'd rate this the most enjoyable Chills show I've ever been too. It's one of those evenings where everything seemed to come together perfectly: the company of good friends, a great venue and terrific sound.

We are still discussing the big important issues of the day, like why Martin has given his last 12 LPs titles with the initials S.B., when the band finally emerge. The stage tonight is banked by shelves of books and antique radiograms. Very appropriate. The show's a sell-out, and the place is heaving. Martin looks resplendent in a lovely blue shirt and his bright red Gibson semi-acoustic. It's great to see him looking so healthy and happy and after all the years of illness and mental health issues.

Bathed in deep-blue light, the Chills set off with the customary opener, "The Night of Chill Blue", which still somehow manages to tingle the spine after all these years. As I look across to my friend Andrew, he points out that we are stood next to the minister of finance. It's moments like this that make living here in Aotearoa so special; I mean, how many other countries would you find yourself dancing and singing along to an 80s indie band with a senior government minister?

I think it's fair to say the band play it safe tonight. The first part of the show is packed with favourites:"'Bad Sugar", "Wet Blanket", a ferocious "Oncoming Day", and peaking with an exhilarating rush through the peaks and crests of "Male Monster From the Id". The band are on fine form, and playing with huge confidence. We get a smattering of new songs ("Little Alien", "Destiny", "Monolith"), of which "You're Immortal" is the real stand-out. Perhaps as close to an epic as Marty has penned, the song is lifted further by the addition of electric violin from Erica and trumpet from new bassist Callum, I'm transported to a world of pale fountains, orange skies and exploding teardrops. More of this please, Mr Phillips.

And then we're back to the hits. And although tonight's versions of "Kaleidoscope World" and "Pink Frost" are a bit flat, missing the brittle fragility of the originals, by the time "Heavenly Pop Hit" and "Leather Jacket" have the whole crowd dancing and wildly singing along, all is forgotten and a big grin is splashed across my face.

If I have any gripes, they are minor. Martin doesn't include any of his more more esoteric or interesting songs (highlights of recent shows have been unexpected treats like "Satin Doll" and "Lost In Space"), and yet again they don't play any of my personal favourites ("Flame Thrower", "House With A Hundred Rooms", or the eternally magnificent "Dan Destiny and the Silver Dawn"). But hey, you can't have everything! They encore as always with a celebratory romp through "Rolling Moon". It simply wouldn't be a Chills gig if it didn't end with everyone joyously singing along to, "Please, O God, don't take us home".

As the crowd reluctantly departs into the night, everyone is buzzing: We all seem to agree that this was a very special show. And so I walk home, whistling the refrain to "Rolling Moon" and feeling very lucky indeed to be alive and living here in Wellington, 2021.

The Chills' new LP, 'Scatterbrain', is available from Fire Records.


Thanks, Duncan. Wish I could have been there. It doesn't look like anyone has posted any clips from this show yet, but we can still enjoy a live song from recent times. New one "Destiny" was played at the Festival of Lights 2021 in New Plymouth, NZ. Enjoy.


Dan Destiny's Silver Dawn said...

Brian - if it makes you feel any better, we've regressed back to the standard Wellington weather of howling winds and driving rain since the weekend...

Brian said...

Hi DDSD. I was thinking about friends in your old neck of the woods. Northern England and Scotland had a dusting of snow a few days ago! Do you have the new album yet? Comes out on Friday through Bandcamp. Really liking the songs I have heard so far. Thinking maybe you might have been able to get it earlier in New Zealand or maybe at their shows. I have my first tickets to a couple of shows happening in September. Hopefully things are close to normal by then.

Dan Destiny’s Silver Dawn said...

Yes. I picked up a copy on blue vinyl last week. You’re Immortal is the highlight for me, but there’s also a heartbreaking song called Caught In My Eye which is about the death of his mother. The most nakedly confessional song he’s done since True Romance on the Stand By LP.

There’s a big southerly due tonight straight from the Antarctic, so getting prepared for a big chill!

Scruff said...

I have seen the Chills many times since I first saw them at the Empire bar in Dunedin NZ in 1980 and I agree with Duncan that this is one of thier best gigs.I just never get sick of hearing them.

Brian said...

Welcome, Scruff. I believe you go further back with the Chills than anyone who has ever visited the blog. Who would have thought Martin would continue to put out such quality the past five or six years?