Shapeshifter with L.A.B & Sunshine Sound Sound System
Sunday, October 21
Black Barn Vineyards
Review by Astrid Austin

As the last fragments of natural light disappeared, a faint silhouette walked on the stage. The still atmosphere was quickly replaced by a continuous high-pitched hum.

And with no spoken words, the lyrics, "hold on ... hold it on ... hold it deep inside" echoed through the crowd.

Hawke's Bay's Black Barn Vineyards had come to life.

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While he may be an unassuming figure, when Shapeshifter's frontman, P Digsss (Paora Apera) opens his mouth, the voice of an angel comes out.

The relationship of his masterfully smooth vocals, the earth-shaking depth of the darkened bass and the lightening spikes of electronic peaks obliterates everything else.

It is no wonder they are highly regarded both on the local and international music scenes for their live stage performances.

But rewind a few hours and their second show of the long weekend began seamlessly, with Sunshine Sound System. DJ Downtown Brown along with brothers MC KPZ (Kyle Popham) and MC Switch (Staun Popham) provided background sound for the steady stream of concert-goers arriving.

Then L.A.B took to the stage, where they held their own.

Their mix of pop, funk and soul quickly had the crowd up on their feet and embracing the music.

And with a new album only four weeks away they sure know how to promote their sound.

Lead singer Joel Shadbolt graced the stage with Ara Adams-Tamatea from Katchafire on bass and the legendary Kora brothers; drummer Brad Kora and Stu Kora on guitar and keys.

However, fans were undoubtedly here to see the veterans of the music scene. Shapeshifter have been in our hearts and minds since 1999 and although it may have been 19 years since they first walked onto the music scene, nothing has changed.

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"Coming to Hawke's Bay still feels like coming back home," P Digsss says, warming himself to the crowd even more.