Auckland Festival
March 5-22 | Reviewed by Alexander Bisley

“WE’RE GONNA spiegel for you tonight,” SJD opined. Despite creating some of the great songs of the last decade on Southern Lights and Songs From a Dictaphone, past SJD performances at WOMAD, the Big Day Out and the Big Night In have left me a dash disappointed. Alas, this performance at the Spiegeltent, nattily awash in red lights, joins that list.

The performance had an unexplained nor apologised 45 minute delay, starting at 12.15am. There wasn’t the exquisite, spine-tingling magic of ‘The Last I Saw Maryanne’ as it is on Songs From a Dictaphone. And SJD’s new, electronica-heavy album Dayglo Spectres is a bit of a letdown, lacking the intelligent, moving lyrics of the previous two albums. SJD and his band played some songs strongly though, such as ‘Lucifer’, where SJD adopted a lovely, lyrical tone: “Lucifer, you’re beautiful”.

A good time was had by all at Mikelangelo and the Black Sea Gentlemen. The blackly comic five-piece, Ockers pretending to be Eastern Europeans, have echoes of Borat, The Benka Boradovsky Bordello Band and Black Cat, White Cat. Led by showman Mikelangelo, the Bull of the Balkans, they put on an energetic show. Definite musicality, sometimes macabre lyrics and flair for provocative audience engagement led to some fun moments. Violinist Rufino leaped onto our table and played a vigorous solo!