REVIEW – Mixdown Magazine

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Mixdown Magazine

Northcote Social Club, Melbourne – Thursday 18th April, 2013

There’s been a pretty consistent buzz build-ing around young blues artist Shaun Kirk over the last few years. I’ve had the pleasure of watching his career develop, as his pas-sion for playing live and tour-ing has seen him play hundreds of gigs to audi-ences all over the country, all the while building and refining his live show from his acoustic singer/songwriter roots, to what is now constantly being hailed as one of the most explosive solo acts this country has to offer. Shaun then made his way onto the stage clutching his Cole Clark, and sat himself down on a drum stool amongst a staggeringly large amount of gear for a solo artist. Included in the set-up were six drum pedals (5 of them digital MIDI controllers — 1 x snare, 1x kick drum, 1 x high hat, 2 x cymbals and 1 x analog wooden stomp box), to his right a Yamaha “Brain” the size of a small Esky that controls all his MIDI samples, at his feet between all the drum pedals sat 8 or so guitar pedals, a box containing his harmonicas to his left, his Vox guitar amp behind him, and an Ampeg bass amp behind him the size of a kitchen fridge; to which his guitar signal is split, sent through an octave pedal, and out the bass amp to give out some pretty serious bottom end when required. The opening song Every Dog Will Have His Day is an absolute belter. A great introduction for first timers to Shaun’s work showing off his fantastic guitar playing and freakishly awesome vocal range, whilst his pedal powered drums drag it along at the kind of tempo that feels like it’s just that little bit too slow, in such a painfully good way. As I looked around the room I noticed most people pulling the same kind of ridiculous facial expression that I was. Kinda like as if someone had walked into the middle of the room and dropped an absolute stinker, making everyone’s faces screw up till their eyes were almost closed, but instead of being angry — they absolutely loved it; nodding slowly and approvingly to each other to the trawling tempo of Shaun’s filthy, filthy blues. One thing that never fails to impress me is his harmonica playing. Regardless of whether or not he’s playing slide guitar and stomping away on his drum pedals at the same time, his often complex harp licks remain clear and concise. I later found out from him after the show that he actually runs his harmonica through a couple of pedals then straight through the P.A to fatten the signal and increase the bottom end. Besides the inclusion of a pesky buzz coming though the bass amp (which was luckily only audible between songs), the set went flawlessly. It’s amazing how dynamic one man can be when playing with such an arsenal of gear. Song’s such as Blues For My Birthday, Drug Got A Hold On You and Chicken and Corn — a song about life on the road and eating nothing but canned chicken and corn for months on end to save money were standouts. Also very impressive was an electrifying cover of Howlin’ Wolf’s Smokestack Lightning. Although the audience was clearly enjoying the performance, it did take until the second last song of the set to get a healthy dance floor happening in the front. After a few heckles from a punter down the back for a track called Steam Train, Shaun granted his wish and closed the night with it, dragging it out for almost 10 minutes while he took the now dancing crowd through their paces proving himself to be worthy of the solid reputation he most graciously deserves. The tour in support of ‘The Wick Sessions’ — a new live CD/DVD showcasing new material as well as favourites from previous releases ‘Cruisin’ and ‘Thank You For Giving Me The Blues’ is happening through April, May and June and will more than likely end up in a town or country pub near you. Reviewed by JONATHAN DRAGON

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