Review: Mixed bag still got crowd dancing in the aisles

By William Dart

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The Adults with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
The Adults with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.

Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's main concert series is three weeks away, but a special spirit of celebration was present at its Thursday gig with the Adults.

The programme, created by Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, showcased the Kiwi supergroup in a set that ended with dancing in the aisles.

Shayne Carter, Julia Deans and Jon Toogood, all wielding guitars, were a lithe trio, with powerhouse drummer Steve Bremner dispensing beats under the watchful eye of conductor, Hamish McKeich.

The band has a modest songbook; three singles all came up, and Nothing to Lose, riding on a zesty Stephen Small arrangement, was reprised as a funky encore.

Toogood was very much the front man. He jested amiably about "symphonic dissonance" and compared the APO's decibellic clout very favourably with that of his band, Shihad. Earplugs were hardly necessary. The song, Most Important, might not have brooded as it did in the studio, but there was compensation in Claire Cowan's arrangement with its pastoral oboe.

Later, Cowan's savvy scoring for A New Beginning set Toogood's "song about going to Hollywood" in a vibrant mix of Latin percussion and flecked, jittery woodwind.

Carter and Toogood sharing vocals on numbers such as Up and Gone made one long for more of the lean and laconic snarl that Carter brings to his other projects. Such moments were a welcome antidote to the sentimentality of Deans' Anniversary Day.

Other disappointing offerings included Toogood's uptempo Reunite, which came across as a faded dance-floor hustle, channelling Wham!

Sleep Me Tight, a duet with Anika Moa, was launched with some banter about it growing out of a miscalculated date between Moa and Toogood. Simple to the point of childlike, it was incomparably lifted by Cowan's solo strings and murmuring marimba.

While Moa was the life of the party on stage, the other guest, Ladi6, was all cool elegance.

She was the sleek focal point for Nothing to Lose and, over Bremner's slow-burn arrangement, her Please Wake Up had a power and urgency beyond what any recording could catch.

What: The Adults Meet the APO
Where: Aotea Centre

- NZ Herald

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