New Zealand Story — The Stonewell Tavern 27.3.09

The board outside The Stonewell Tavern announces ‘One of lancaster’s Best new Bands.’   Readers of The Lunecy Review and regular Lancaster giggers will know this is a brave boast in these times of a real upswing in the city’s musical talent.

New Zealand Story certainly rose to the challenge.  A musically competent, and excellently tight 5 piece I have to confess they aren’t the sort of band I would go see regularly, but I do like variety and as their set developed I actually grew to enjoy it more than my initial response.   They seem to take their musical cue from ‘The Stranger’-era Billy Joel as much as from anywhere, but at times they laced songs with subtle 1960s R’n’B hints.

One song, with the refrain ‘That’s just how I roll’ showed they could vary the tempo within a song and maintain their fluidity and tautness, but the female backing vocals didn’t seem to add much.  Maybe it was the mix, as the main vocals weren’t always distinct.

Their own songs showed craft and touches of wit, but the highlight of the first set (and I’m sorry guys, I didn’t stay for the second this time) was a soulful, passionate cover of Tom Waits’ ‘Way Down In The Hole’ that built to just this side of histrionics to great effect.*

So, New Zealand Story, not my regular cup of tea, but they may well be yours, and, you know, I think I’d go see them again.  Hopefully I’ll see you there too.

*just to note this is the theme song from The Wire which finally makes it to BBC2 this week.  If you haven’t seen it, make sure you catch up now with possibly the greatest TV show ever made.

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