Post Modern Jukebox – Live @ The Auckland Town Hall, 2018
Friday night I got the pleasure of seeing Post-modern Jukebox, who brought their A-game to their one night only Auckland show. A very friendly, talkative crowd gradually entered the intimate Town Hall with some concertgoers going the extra mile by dressing up with typical PMJ class. Plenty of pearls, wraps, hats and suspenders to go around. Looking up at the amazing stage set up, with the iconic organ as the backdrop, I had already decided that it was going to be an epic night and at the perfect venue for the style of the band.
WORDS BY KIMBERLEY JONES | PHOTOS BY DAVID WATSON
The show started just after 8 pm than with The Thong Song by Sisco but not as I’ve ever heard it before. Now I knew that the performances I would bear witness to would not be anything like I had ever seen before but I was not prepared for what I got. The night, as a whole, was filled with so much fun as the audience were not only graced with outstanding vocals but with musicianship that rivals the best. I was in a time warp being sent back to an era where music wasn’t just loud but passionate and extremely theatrical. But it didn’t stop there as Anissa Lee, dressed as a cabaret-style dancer, took to stage in a very suggestive black ‘thong’ outfit.
After a short chat giving us a rundown on what we had in store for the evening, we were then introduced to Mario who would grace us with his rendition of Sam Smith’s Say You Love Me. What was crystal clear to me was how much everyone on stage was getting on. There were smiles and clear interactions that had been well rehearsed and yet all seemed so natural. Coming out to the front of the stage were the two from the brass section on clarinet (also amazing on saxophone) and the most talented trombone player I have ever seen.
Another new face comes to the stage and we are introduced to Olivia Kuper Harris who came to the band through the #PMJSearch2017. Olivia brings some 40’s Jazz with Katy Perry’s Last Friday Night. Seriously though, the deliverance of the vocals for this item had me thinking she was sure to collapse on stage from running out of breath. Olivia’s jazz improvisations were out of this world!
“Resident heartthrob” Von Smith delivers Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me A River in a vintage R & B style with his soft sounding, velvety smooth soprano. Dressed in simple black trousers, brown shirt & hat, he drew attention to every part of the stage he went with a cheeky grin and a glint in his eye. A premature slow clap at the end of the song by an attendee had Von laugh quickly before he continued to close out the song.
A soul filled version of Hey Ya originally performed by Outkast had three vocalists on stage in absolutely amazing vintage outfits. Brielle Von Hugel and Von Smith get a reluctant audience to participate finally and assist with the chorus of the song. The change in tempo took a bit of getting used to, and I did find at times it was hard to hear the words, but this was more than made up for by everything else that was going on up on stage.
Clarinet player Chloe surprised us all by stepping out from behind her music stand with her instrument and blew my mind with her 1930’s Jazz delivery of No Surprises by Radiohead. With the microphone set too high by the last performer there were plenty of laughs as Chloe fixed this but they were so quickly shut down by what came from her next. It is true what they say; big voices often come in small packages. With just a backing of piano & Adam Kubota on cello when Chloe played her clarinet it was all I could do was just sit and stare.
An instrumental of the Harry Potter Theme by the band brought Anissa back to the stage this time to stun us all with her tap dancing. I couldn’t look away. She commanded the stage even though there was plenty going on with the others in the band. A kind of duel between the dance and the music but what a sensational set! After finally finding a gentleman to join her on stage, our lead vocalist for the evening sang a sensual jazz rendition of Pony by Ginuwine mostly known from the Magic Mike movies. I’m sure I don’t need to explain the dance moves…..
All The Single Ladies is performed in Chicago style by all three beautiful ladies of the evening in stunning black dresses. Regardless as to whether they were singing solo or harmonising as a duo or group, the vocal ranges and control of all involved last night was phenomenal. We get a quick ten mins intermission and are told to “Remember all it takes is ten mins…..” with such a cheeky grin & wink.
Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance brought the crowd back under the bands spell with more tap dancing that leads into a Smashmouth cover All-Star lead by Von. Mario and Brielle gave a heartwarming Prom Style duet of Ed Sheeran’s Perfect. Accompanied by the brass section dancing together trying not to look too awkward. This summed up the whole night for me. The biggest round of applause yet showed me that I wasn’t the only one that was blown away by the skills on display in front of me.
Another duet of Mad World by Von and Olivia was followed by another tap extravaganza. Then almost one at a time all the vocalists come onto stage to sing Radiohead cover, Creep. This brought out all the cellphones with torches and even had some of the band do the same.
Asking for help with this song, I felt the night was starting to wind down as All About That Bass was flawlessly performed after a happy birthday request from an audience member. This was by far the song I was most looking forward to and they did not disappoint. I couldn’t honestly say if I preferred Meghan Trainor’s original or this new one. And just whoa it is just amazing to see artists that can still sing live! Those wonderful people I saw last night for the first time gave me an all-round performance.
Bringing the night to a close we had the stage filled with everyone that had entertained us for a group Mowtown encore of Shake It Off by Taylor Swift. This is also the time where the band themselves were given centre stage to show off their clear talents by providing solos. It took me a while to realise it but the undoubtedly professional pianist smashed out none other than the Flintstones Theme Song as his solo. So much applause as more in the audience came to the same realisation.
Here I was thinking I was a music lover but with all that was on display last night, I have a new genre to appreciate. For all that would doubt a covers band, you need to see these guys. There is no comparison.