After a string of performances through Europe and Japan in promotion of his third album Harmonies, Wellington producer and multi-instrumentalist Lord Echo finally brought his album release tour for a night of funk, groove and disco to the people of Auckland.
A week after an appearance in his hometown of Wellington, Lord Echo (also known as Mike Fabulous) made a stop at Avondale’s iconic Hollywood Cinema which has been host for other musical events such as Aldous Harding and Nadia Reid. Although this being his first headlining show in Auckland for the year, I had been lucky enough to catch Lord Echo play a special set at this years WOMAD festival in New Plymouth which was very well received despite being the last act to play for the weekend and to such an exhausted audience.
Lord Echo’s music could be described as being on the edge of house music with a twist of world sounds such as reggae, Latin music, disco and African soul, perfect for a festival like WOMAD but would it be right for a venue like the Hollywood?
The night started off with fellow Wellington based band The All Seeing Hand kicking off the night. I have always been eager to witness them live but unfortunately have always missed my chance but luckily tonight was my night. The band were backed by fantastic display of live visuals (put together by Erika Sklenars) to accompany their experimental sound which strongly reminded me of bands like Death Grips and Clipping. They played a forty minute set to a crowd of middle age punters who were dancing awkwardly to their interesting tunes but nevertheless I absolutely loved it, the sound was fantastic and performance was something I’ve never quite seen before.
Lord Echo took to the stage around ten o’clock to a packed out room of highly intoxicated adults and university students taking a break from study, a rather mixed demographic. Accompanied by his five piece band made up of well-dressed session members Lisa Tomlins, Mara TK, Lucien Johnson, Daniel Hayles and Izak Chads, we were ready to boogie.
The set started off sloppy, the mixing was off, the bass was too loud, the horns and vocals were quiet and the bongos could not even be heard! I myself was disappointed and not pleased with this mess. At such an early start, the audience seemed to be 50/50 about the performance, people were either dancing or rudely talking over the band, showing complete disrespect and spilling their drinks everywhere, including on me.
After a scruffy start to the show, things started to pick up some momentum. The conversations drew to a close and people seemed invested in what they were watching and the sound was on point, I myself could finally dance and enjoy the show. Lord Echo presented his worldy tunes to the fullest which contained a hint of a Kiwiana sound, but sadly some songs were not impressive. Ultimately the tunes blended into one another and everything began to sound the same and feature a similar structure from one another.
A highlight of the show was the moment when the backing band each got their own chance to steal the limelight and show off their musical abilities, they are all talented and great performers to say the least.
After a very exciting encore, the set drew to a close. Lord Echo is a great musician and his show was electrifying but Hollywood Cinema did not reflect truly on this. Lord Echo has the type of music you would like to watch outdoors on a nice summers day at a festival on the grass, not in doors in an old musty cinema. Maybe for now he should stick to festival slots instead. As for The All Seeing Hand, they completely stole the spotlight with their phenomenal set in my opinion, they are one band I’m definitely going to be catching on their upcoming tour.
Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Ivan Karczewski: