Words/photos Wal Reid

The only thing worse than Auckland’s schizophrenic weather is trying to find a park in the driving rain. Seems everyone else was converging on Auckland’s Town Hall for Marlon Williams’ sold out Make Way For Love gig – just my luck, dammit.

Mainlander Marlon Williams’ music has a strange way to transport oneself back in time – A time where things were simple. For me, it’s probably a time when my parents roamed the earth, in their hormone fuelled driven years in the Sixties. Excuse me, while I throw up.
Seriously though, Williams’ jangly guitar music seems retro-fitted with a flux capacitor that has a modern ‘kick in the nuts’. Tonight the air filled with the minor chord infused Come To Me and the Chris Isaak-esque I Know A Jeweller, from his latest offering Make Way For Love. Both songs lending credence to his melancholic genius, adding that tonight was the “biggest crowd the band had played in front of.”

Waxing lyrical with reflection and musings, he was in fine form. Sharing between songs, including latest radio darling, What’s Chasing You adding that he had “grown up fifty metres” from Brighton Beach where the video was filmed, while musing, “There’s nothing beautiful about this next song, “ on Can I Call You, renaming it the “Green Light” song, a reference at his recent breakup with singer Aldous Harding.

Marlon Williams makes Country music sound cool. His crooning style over slide guitars or adding his take on some great cover choices like Teddy Randazzo’s classic Lost Without You, or the interesting Barry Gibb song Carried Away, saw bassist Ben Wooley assisting on the intro and outro adding falsetto, while Williams watching him, only seemed to egg the clapping crowd on.
While the smaller venue of last years RSA gig provided a close up look at the band, tonight’s bigger venue although sporting a bigger, sound failed to capture the intimacy. With the exposure William’s has had overseas, it seems inevitable he would play bigger crowds.

William’s frugal attire matches his personality, the tall looming figure in suit against the timeless architecture of the Town Hall was an apt setting. The grand old building matching the ambience of yester-year, as my mind raced back to when The Beatles played there in 1964, the same inherent guitar sound present at tonight’s gig.

Marlon Williams for me keeps improving as a singer and performer. He’s very good at reading the audience, knowing when to back off or apply pressure to hold the crowd in his hand. At one stage he hastily scooted off for a refreshment, during Dark Child, the band jammed oblivious to his departure off stage, as Dave Khan’s dirty guitar gave the tune a heavier than normal vibe.

After the encore songs had finished, he came back on to give the crowd one last thrill, When I Was A Girl – that’s just who he is, a decent sort.