Live Review: SJD & Shayne Carter – Wellington

I’ve been to plenty of sit down concerts in the past but this is the first show I’ve attended that served popcorn and ice creams during the interval – and the gourmet versions at that!  The night kicked off in fine style with the Shayne Carter (Straight Jacket Fits, Dimmer) performing solo.

With his trademark pout and intense 1000 yard stare Carter rattled through a pile of classics from his back catalogue including a very stripped back ‘Drop You Off’ and ‘Evolution,’ ‘Dial a Prayer’ and the ubiquitous wailer ‘Randolph’s Going Home’.

Much of his nervy, awkward banter seemed to be centred on rejection.  “How many people have been dumped?” he asked before introducing a couple of songs, “Oh. Not many.  Well. It sux!”  Played solo, none of these songs lose any of their original intensity, despite the lack of psychedelic washes that featured on the original ‘Fits’ numbers and the disturbing noise clash treatments of the Dimmer tunes.


SJD At Wellington SJD At Wellington“Hi, We’re SJD, Shayne’s support band”, announces Sean Donnelly after the interval. His five-piece band (Claire Cowan – Keys; Mike Hall – bass; James Duncan – Guitar; Chris O’Connor – Drums; and Sandy Mill – vocals, percussion) took the stage, accompanied by a five-piece chamber orchestra.

Donnelly, bedecked in his trilby, long hair, grey beard and specs sung with cheeks of honey and talked like a farmer. The plan was to play through the latest album, St John Devine, in its entirety.

Sometimes an album doesn’t translate well onto the stage, this time it did. There was sufficient drama in the songs and a certain dry humour played out by Donelly and his band whose performance felt relaxed but energetic. This is a listening band, not so much shoe gazers, but not show ponies either.

Following the completion of the album, the old faves saw an airing, including a plush orchestration of ‘Superman, You’re Crying’, reworked by Victor Kelly. I particularly enjoyed vocalist Sandy Mills, especially on ‘Invisible Man’ and a particularly crunchy version of the old gospel number ‘Jesus’.  She made good use of a small desk of percussive bits and bob, tambourines, cow bells, etc, even tapping her collarbone during ‘I Am The Radio”.

If you get the chance, do make the effort.  It’s a good night out and a nice introduction a stunning album of clever, ironic, familiar, and lush works that deserve the oxygen.

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Photo Credit: Sean Jones :


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