I sometimes kind of like it when the opening act outshines the headline act. This interesting, slightly eclectic set from former Dunedinite Timothy Blackman was a bit of a treat. Blackman (with band) experimented with a bunch of new songs, apparently ready for recording this summer. This allowed for a refreshing, laid back approach - very much in a jam style, including a couple of moments where Blackman seemingly forgot the words to his own songs, reached down to flip over the pages of a songbook, and picked up where he left off. Totally natural, uncontrived, and quite charming if I'm honest.
Earnest is one word that springs to mind to describe Blackman's style. Understated and unassuming are a couple of others. He writes pretty, eccentric songs, and he plays them well. The addition of the cello adds an unexpected, soulful dimension. Personally I find his lower vocal range more appealing than his mid range, but maybe that's partly a reflection of Mighty Mighty's questionable acoustics.
As he hit his stride, Blackman got into a nice groove and ended his set well - his last few numbers featured some excellent, eccentric rhythms, a nice use of his full vocal range, and interesting, well-structured songs. In fact I think I heard a couple of potential singles tucked away in there. Blackman is unique and understated - what you see is what you get, and I particularly like that honesty in an artist.
tono and the finance company
I was really looking forward to seeing Tono and the Finance Company because I remember seeing Tono some years ago in
Tono and his backing band might have been more polished than their opening act, but were much less genuine. The best part about Tono is The Finance Company (including, for this tour, half of former
Anthonie Tonnon himself sings with a contrived Brit-pop accent, which really, really grated me. It's a shame because some of his lyrics are actually quite amusing - if he moved away from the contrived vocals and embraced the playful irony that I recall when I first saw him, he could actually be a decent, amusing lyricist. But as the night wore on, frankly I grew increasingly tired of the fake accent, formulaic songs, and Tono's consistently off-key vocals.
A bit of a downer way to end an evening that started out so promisingly, but by the end of the night I found myself wishing someone would put Tono and the Finance Company into receivership.