live review

SteveAbel and the Chrysalids. Als Bar, ChCh. July 3rd

SteveAbel and the Chrysalids. Als Bar, ChCh. July 3rd

July 03 2008
Al's Bar, Christchurch

Reviewed by Lil Hearplug
10th May 2010

Steve Abel and the Chrysalids. Al’s Bar, ChCh. July 3rd

Steve Abel and the Chrysalids were new to me - or so I thought - until the ether rose from Camp A Low Hum 08 and a vague memory of their early evening slot emerged. The character of the audience on this night suggested recognition in much wider circles and faithful following of Abel’s decade of musical work. Comparison to Nick Cave’s poetic lyrics and voice seems obvious. The sweet and salty tones have a definite kiwi flavour, however, and though melancholic at times do not have Cave’s gothic streak. How Abel came to place the words of Nandor Tanczo’s “a haven for bats and moss” into the chorus line of Haven (from the album Flax Happy), I’d love to know?

The Auckland based Chrysalids are in no way pupae themselves. Rich double bass and stirring harmony from Mike Hall and Geoff Maddock (electric guitar) render open landscapes far from the city. Milan Borich on drums, brought lightness to the melancholic tales and humour to Maddock’s occasional stray timing. For those unfamiliar with these musicians, their origins are as broad as Dimmer, Goldenhorse, and Bressa Creating Cake, and as far distant as Pluto. Gareth Thomas who plays accordion and keyboards was unfortunately absent from the Christchurch gig

Flax Happy, their latest album features several collaborations including a traditional love song, Ka Pinea Koe with Anika Moa and several tracks with American folk singer Jolie Holland. My desire is now to pour over previous albums, such as Little Death, which won critical acclaim in 2005.

If tonight was no exception then Steve Abel and the Chrysalids prove there is at least one good reason to wish you were in Auckland and dreaming of Central Otago.

Flax Happy, 2008, out on Kin’sland Records.
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Review by Lil Hearplug. With thanks to Mark Roberts.

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