Thursday, 27 September 2007

REVIEW: OdESSA and The Thomas Oliver Band

Words by Peter Baillie
Photo's by Sheryn Simpson

Matt Pender

Paul Mouncey

Dan Ryland

Matthew 'Puba' Swain

The Thomas Oliver Band

Expectations were high on Friday night - after a long wait, OdESSA's much anticipated second album was ready for release and they wanted to celebrate it in style. A good portion of Wellington decided to join them.

OdESSA has become a local legend with their feverish, high-octane performances coupled with fantastic tunes and beats that you can't help but dance to. Their album 'The Prize' finally manages to capture the energy and polish of their live show in a studio album.

With so much expectation for the headliners, the Thomas Oliver Band took to the stage with no fanfare- not that stage fright is a problem for a young man who opened for Eric Clapton at the Mission Estate concert earlier this year!

It only took a minute for the crowd to get right into their performance, and each song ramped up the excitement from there. A three piece comprising Thomas (guitar and vocal), Steven (electric and upright bass) and Tom (drums), they made effortless changes through folk, pop, rock, soul, slow blues and country. Closing with the show-stopper 'All I Can Say', Thomas led the band through a medley of 'Cocaine' by JJ Cale and 'Ground On Down' by Ben Harper before snapping back to their own song to close the set. They left the stage to rapturous - and justified - applause, with many new fans.

OdESSA has played hundreds of shows in the last 5 years (I've been to almost all of them!) but obviously wanted to make this one special. Usually playing as a four-piece, they were joined this evening by a female vocalist, percussionist and keyboard player.

Concentrating on numbers from the new album, each band member excelled. Laying a ferocious beat that belies the scaled-down drumkit, Matthew 'Puba' Swain gave unstoppable groove to each number. Paul Mouncey on bass laid down fantastic lines that complemented everyone else's performance, and blew the crowd away with a bass solo that most guitarists wouldn't have a hope of replicating. Dan Ryland, the new guitarist, threw off melodic lead breaks and gentle acoustic numbers with equal ease.

Above all, Matt Pender, the ultimate frontman, blessed with athletic dancing, a fantastic voice and unbreakable stage presence. His dancing turned the crowd into a wild, sweaty yet good-natured mosh pit. The crowd danced, jumped, clapped, sang and yelled for more.

This was undoubtedly one of the most enjoyable gigs I've been to, and it's a wonderful thing that two bands should have the courage to play a wide variety of styles and be so warmly received by everyone present. Out of five stars, this gig gets a Milky Way.

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