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October 1, 2007 | by  | in Music | [ssba]

David Kilgour, supported by White Swan Black Swan and Achilles Botes

Ours is a land of modesty and understatement. Our best poets, filmmakers, sportspeople, writers, musicians – even actors – often exhibit a constant state of suppressed pride, preferring to display a cool veneer of indifference to their excellence rather than succumb to giddy hubris.

Thursday’s acoustic show at Mighty Mighty in support of post-punk/pop mainstay David Kilgour’s recently-released 7th solo album, The Far Now, illustrated this tendency perfectly. Despite the warm and appreciative nature of the crowd, Kilgour and openers White Swan Black Swan kept things cool and casual, giving the gig a sense of offhand familiarity and easy temperament.

First up was a solo set from Achilles Botes, key member of marvellous indie outfit Ghostplane. Shifting from rhythmic acoustic finger-picking numbers through to more intense guitar-effect jams, and even a spot of Greek blues “from the 1920s”, Botes engaged the crowd with his interesting song dynamics and direct performance. Kilgour himself was even overheard making a few positive comments from within the crowd.

Next were keyboard/guitar duo White Swan Black Swan. Their moody tunes set a somewhat solemn mood, but still managed to draw warm responses from the crowd. With songs about old super 8 movies, TradeMe and mortality, Sonya and Ben presented a rather quaint take on the trivialities of modern life, with a healthy amount of stage banter thrown in. Their songs combine jaunty pop sensibilities with bitter undertones, creating a somewhat disorientating sense of joy and desperation that grew a tad tiresome towards the end of the set.

Finally, up jumped Mr. Kilgour. Jumping into his set with a handful of sweet acoustic tunes, David looked completely at home on stage. Having just played a few shows in fairly small South Island towns, the decent-sized audience was probably a nice change. One highlight was a rather odd ode to farmyard animals, dedicated to “the farming folk in the house.”

After around half a dozen songs, David traded acoustic for electric, and played over a few backing tracks from his laptop. Despite the quality of his playing, the performance seemed to fall rather flat at this point. Live use of backing tracks has a tendency to sound thin and shallow, and this show was no exception. It felt somewhat like Kilgour karaoke.

Sonya and Ben from White Swan Black Swan then joined David on stage for a final few songs, including the surreal ‘Pirates of the Mall’, a track from their recently released E.P.

A David Kilgour show is always going to be good in some way, as this one was.

But to see the man at the full height of his psychedelic pop prowess, catch one of his shows with his full band, the Heavy Eights.

Mighty Mighty,
Thursday 20th September


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