R E V I E W
Anthonie Tonnon at The Meteor, 26 January
Anthonie Tonnon played the salubrious feeling The Meteor last night, as part of a tour of theatres through New Zealand and Australia. Being a theatre show, patrons were recommended to be at the venue when the doors opened at 8 pm. At 7:45 it suddenly started getting stormy outside, with wind, rain and a little bit of lightning; there was a giant ‘Two Free Hands’ poster on the Meteor’s window, with hands raised as if to welcome the weather after a sweltering day. It wasn’t such good timing for those entering the venue at this moment, however. In a white shirt prior to starting, Tonnon suited up before the performance, handkerchief in pocket. And with the venue set up with five rows of tiered seating, it was obvious this was going to be more of a ‘performance’ than a ‘gig’. Kicking off at 8:17, it became clear a few people missed the memo about the start time (most sadly for those that got tickets through Undertheradar, which clearly specified 8:30pm!). Nevertheless, the performance was, for me, mostly excellent, full of great music and humour. And it was one of those performances that makes me feel even warmer the morning after, thinking back on it, like a good piece of theatre should. Audience participation was required a couple of times, such as during the irrigation themed ‘Water Underground’, which demanded the audience chant the song's title over and over through the song. Stories were told between songs, including of his father’s history as an adolescent boy racer in Morrinsville, before playing ‘Sugar in the Petrol Tank’, off his 2015 ‘Successor’ album. And Tonnon used a lot of movement through his performance, acting a bit like an A.I. robot that was just learning how humans dance, in a theatrical fashion.
Tonnon apologised for the time it had taken for him to return to the city, and his style has changed since his previous visits, going from band-based, to solo guitarist, to what he now describes as playing with his ‘robots’. For some longer-term fans, these changes haven’t been met with enthusiasm. But for me, I like the technology. Why aren't more bands pushing technology to its limits? How else are the youth going to get into bands when they are still playing old technology, like drums, guitars and the like? With no support band, the performance was split into two sets, of seven and two songs. The second set started with the fantastic ‘Two Free Hands’, the first of his new songs released with the aforementioned robots. When he departed, the audience politely demanded more, and he returned for an encore of ‘Multiple Lives’. Overall, a great night, which provided something different from the typical gig.