LIVE REVIEW: Shayne P. Carter @ Kings Arms Tavern, Auckland (14/05/11)

Shayne P. Carter played a set spanning his entire career from Double Happys to Straitjacket Fits and through to his current work as Dimmer. Guest reviewer DJ3chord got to experience the night in Auckland, New Zealand…


The lovely garden bar beckoned – balmy, calm starry night, happy banter and Stella… I missed the support band, a duo with a drum machine (in anticipation of Double Happys maybe?) but from a distance they sounded ok. I think they were the same outfit that supported Wire.

Got into the bar early to stake a spot… unfortunately not the trusty fireplace as some really, really old guy had grabbed it. We watched closely as we were sure he would have to visit the bathroom eventually but decided in the end that he had been dehydrated. Ending up at the corner of the bar close to the stage the room packed in very quickly. What a cross-section audience, South Island oldies, thirty something “fitties” and the younger lot (who are probably only familiar with Dimmer material).

The ‘Carterbation’ started with the first power chord, and what a treat! I experienced the Double Happys numerous times in very early eighties-Christchurch and to hear those tunes again (live!) with half decent gear and a real drummer was superb. Carter played great renditions of Needles and Plastic and Big Fat Elvis… such great tunes and a nice audience sing-a-long to boot.

The sound was full, clear and loud… Carter’s guitar work is really truly very good indeed and across the whole spectrum of material he bridges that whole Kilgour/Gutteridge Dunedinesque riffing groove thang with aplomb adding a keen awareness of all of our rock n roll heritage. Sometimes I shouted in my mind, “hey Neil” (not Finn… but maybe?) and then there was that scary moment when I hoped/dreaded… ”Jeez, he is going to use his teeth as the plectrum”.

Gary Sullivan was the man (on drums) and with the young dude (who uncannily looked like my son and made his mother’s eyes glaze) on bass, they delivered that relentless groove to allow Carter to showcase though at times (usually when Carter paused to fix his comb-over), the rhythm took over to allow the crowd to sync. I just love gun-shot snare and tribal floor tom. Those top four Straitjacket Fit tunes just soared, a bit of echo here, delay there – close your eyes and there are six musos on stage… nice work and they /we loved it. Dimmer stuff can be a bit droll though only one was. Crystalator was “O for…”. Randolph’s Going Home made me speculate that Nocturnal Projections really did have a national influence…good on yah mates!

Carter introduced a level of belligerent showmanship that just makes you want to throw something at him, with all that pouting, preening, snarling… he smiled a hell of a lot and took great pleasure in rarking up all those Jaffs!! I think the only thing Shayne P. Carter has ever said to me is “where’s the fuck’n rider?”… well buddy, the taxi was right outside the door. The accompanying CD is great and we enjoyed it immediately afterwards on the comfort of the couch.

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