Kings Arms
January 17 | Reviewed by Tim G

THE BIG NIGHT IN has become as much of an institution as the event it precedes. It’s the perfect night to satisfy those excited butterflies in your stomach. Tonight gave those unable to see Kiwi icons The Clean a chance to catch them, along with SJD, before the next day’s sensory overload. Also sifting through the crowds at the Kings Arms were various members on Flying Nun royalty, chatting, laughing and sipping beers together as if it were a Flying Nun reunion – an extra special complement to the night.

SJD’s latest offering, Songs From a Dictaphone, is a great album and showcases some of the coolest tracks released in this country in 2007. The live delivery of these songs was something to behold. Looking almost crowded on stage, SJD provided the real soul shakedown of the night. Songs such as ‘Bad Karma in Yokohama’ and ‘I Am the Radio’ were great and the grooves were infectious. These songs demanded involuntary movement. They were rousing and lots of fun. I have to say I was pleasantly surprised at how Donnelly and band managed to create such a classic sound. The perfect pre-Big Day Out gig to whet the appetite, I can’t wait to see them live again.

Next up were the undisputed kings of Flying Nun and arguably New Zealand underground music, the Clean, with the brothers Killgour and Robert Scott treating the Kings Arms to an extended set. ‘Getting Older’ was amazing, yet I felt somewhat underwhelmed overall. They played, in fairness, on the eve of New Zealand’s biggest day of music, in front of friends, and with nothing to prove, but it didn’t seem quite up to the intensity I had expected. The crowd, however, disagreed, with ‘Go point that thing somewhere else’ and ‘Beatnik’ especially appealing.

Overall, a fantastic prelude to the next day’s events that acted as a changing of the guard of sorts: where any dissatisfaction with the Clean was tempered by my unexpected delight with SJD, whose music is something to get excited about.