Cheese on Toast first heard the whispers that EVERCLEAR were heading to New Zealand from our pal Shane from The Bemsha Swing. He vehemently defended his teenage love for them when his excitement was met by my dubious raised eyebrow – so when Cheese on Toast got given the opportunity to review the concert at Auckland’s Studio last week (the first concert at Juice Bar on Wednesday sold out) Shane was the man that sprung immediately to mind.
He eagerly accepted the assignment and promised to put his thoughts into typed words in the down-time over the weekend while Bemsha Swing were on tour in the South Island supporting the release of their debut album via Muzai Records.
Here’s what he had to say :
I have a confession to make. At this show, I’m the kind of fan I hate. I’m here purely for nostalgia. Sparkle and Fade was one of the first two cds I owned (the other being Soundgarden’s Down on the Upside). I blasted that album solidly for two of my early teenage years, hated the singles from follow up So Much for the Afterglow and then generally moved on with my life.
This is just a small part of the general incongruity of the show. There are three (!) support bands, but the two local bands only play three songs each. The third is on tour from the US but waste part of their short set time playing a radio edit note perfect U2 cover. The 14 year old “alt” kid in me has a pretty hard time reconciling all the general “Cock n’ Bull” vibe that’s been built up by the time Everclear actually come on stage with the fact that I’m at an Everclear show.
Well, kind of at an Everclear show. Just like the recent Smashing Pumpkins tour the only original band member on stage is the frontman. There’s more incongruity mid set as Art Alexakis takes the time to introduce the drummer who is tucked away in a corner of the stage with his kit and face blocked off by a mini wall of guitar amps. He doesn’t appear to be deformed and plays pretty damn well, so I have no idea why he needs to be hidden for the rest of the show.
The set list is perfect for the nostalgia crowd I’m a part of. All the singles get aired, and I yell along with Heroin Girl, Heartspark Dollarsign, and You Make me Feel Like a Whore. Local God from the Romeo and Juliet soundtrack gets a blistering and totally unexpected runthrough. The set is mostly bulked out with material from Sparkle and Fade, and I’m psyched to hear songs I never thought they’d play like Summerland and Elektra Made Me Blind. A beautiful solo acoustic run through of Strawberry breaks up the set and I can practically hear the dubbed cassette of Sparkle and Fade grinding to a halt as the batteries in my walkman run out in the middle of lynmall. Surprisingly the highlight of the encore is Be Careful What You Ask For from new album Invisible Stars which has a great singalong chorus.
Unfortunately the sound quality – which was sub par for the support bands – dropped even further for Everclear to a point that was just plain unacceptable for an international show. I’ve been to punk shows in garages with greater clarity and better instrument balance. For that reason I’m glad that I got the set my 14 year old self would have wanted. While I normally like to get into new material when bands play live, if I hadn’t been as familiar with the bulk of it as I was I wouldn’t have been able to tell what was going on enough to write this review.
It says a lot about the current incarnation of Everclear that despite the support weirdness, awful sound, and general atmosphere I had an amazing time while they played. - Shane Warbrooke
Regrettably, Cheese on Toast does not have any live shots from this show. Our dutiful photographer Yvonne Shearer was all set to cover the event but was presented with a contract that, had she signed it, divested all of her artistic rights and copyrights to the shows promoters. She chose, with my support, to not sign the contract.
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