Kitty, Daisy & Lewis, Auckland NZ, 2018

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis
11th February 2018
Powerstation, Auckland, New Zealand.

Review by Sarah Kidd. Photography by Mike Thornton.

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis perform live in Auckland, New Zealand 2018. Image by Mike Thornton.

Sunday night; with many in attendance this evening having to face work in the morning it seemed more than appropriate to kick off tonight’s double header at Auckland’s Powerstation with a healthy dose of the blues.

And Blind Boy Paxton is the personification of the blues.

From the moment that Paxton walked out onto the stage, dressed in a simple white tshirt and blue dungarees, it was as if a little piece of the South had come with him. While he may have been born in Los Angeles, the blues is in his blood, passed down through the generations and flowing through his voice and fingers like sweet whiskey on a summer’s afternoon. There is a quality to Paxton that is incomparable; before he has even begun to play he smiles at the audience before him and the room is illuminated by his spirit. While it cannot be denied that the man is a genius with a guitar, an instrument that many claim – and rightly so – is synonymous with the blues, it is Paxton’s work with other instruments that truly brings him into a class of his own. As Paxton leans down and scoops up a banjo, he delivers some of that sweet repartee that he has quite the reputation for, telling the audience that while he appreciates being welcomed into our country we “didn’t have to put the heat on for me, it’s muggy … me and this banjo are gonna start sweating like a hoe in church”.

It is this connection with his audience that makes Paxton so endearing; legally blind from around the age of sixteen, he can see enough to play his instruments, but as he has stated previously in numerous interviews – his eyesight matters none as the music comes from the heart. ‘What’s Gonna Become of Me’ complete with banjo accompaniment, transports you to the banks of the Mississippi, where the tips of the willow trees brush the surface of the river like those of a lost lover. Audience members along the front row are transfixed, their eyes never moving from Paxton as his fingers pluck the strings with a quickness and grace. “I heard your rail system … sucks” Paxton tells the fans, rowdy laughter rising from them, before he pulls out a harmonica from his centre pocket on his dungarees and begins to play a collection of imitations of the different locomotives that could be heard across the states, telling the audience that he hopes it helps to bring back their love for trains. Following it up with an old school waltz, that quickly turned into a more foot stomping barn dance towards the end , Paxton played his ‘fiddle’ with flair, the joy of doing so written clearly across his face. Blue jokes about pretty girls in baths (Paxton’s Grandmother’s wit obviously having a bit of an edge to it) and wonderful prose of how whiskey and sunshine will cure any ailment litter Paxton’s short but delectable set.

The 1922 classic ‘I’m Drifting Back to Dreamland’ slows it down for a moment, the emotion in Paxton’s delivery of the song, causing more than just a few people to wipe a tear from the corner of their eye; but the pace was soon picked up again when an audience member requested the ‘Candy Man Blues’, Paxton grinning asking “Really? Alright then, you’re all a bunch of freaks … my kind of people!” Between the guitar, banjo, fiddle and harmonica, it felt as if the night had been well and truly baptized in true Paxton style. But he wasn’t quite finished yet, as he demonstrated when a rousing version of ‘The Battle Hymn of the Republic – Glory! Glory! Hallelujah’ played on the harmonica was taken to the next level when again from that magical centre pocket (how many things has he got tucked in there?) Paxton pulled out a set of bones, the sharpness of their clicks cutting through the richness of the harmonica. Blind Boy Paxton is a living, breathing embodiment of the music of by-gone eras, through him it comes to life and dances a jig on stage high as a kite on the saccharinity of the notes that fall from his fingers.

Being a school night, the stage was turned over in lightning speed and the lights soon dimmed for the arrival of the sibling trio who New Zealand have long had a love affair with. Kitty, Daisy & Lewis were born to perform, with a connection made strong by family bonds, their sets often feel as if they are part planned and part jam sessions, spontaneity the name of the game when it comes to the live embellishments added to the structure of each track. With their father Graeme Durham perched off slightly to the side on rhythm guitar, the siblings take the stage in the formation of Lewis on keys, Daisy on drums and Kitty – looking absolutely resplendent in a plum jumpsuit – leading the charge on guitar and vocals, ‘Slave’ immediately bringing the room to its knees.

But these siblings are no ordinary ‘family band’ as throughout the evening the trio move around the instruments like a carousal, each member demonstrating just how highly proficient they are in each and every one. “Hello Auckland” Kitty croons into the microphone; it’s fucking good to be back!” The audience roaring their approval as Kitty smiled. While the venue may not have reached capacity, those who were there were there for Kitty, Daisy & Lewis and they were determined to soak up every last drop that the trio had to offer. ‘It Ain’t Your Business’ saw Lewis step up to the microphone, guitar strapped across a crisp white shirt paired with a colourful pair of Eastern style pants; Lewis looks like he could have stepped straight out from the 70’s (indeed he has confessed to often raiding his parents attic for old clothes); often dropping the words ‘groovy’ and ‘baby’ along the way. And if Lewis is the peace loving hippie of the trio, then Daisy is its kick ass rocket queen. Stepping down from behind the drum kit, Daisy has eyes rolling out of heads, as she stands before all in knee high leather boots and a black leather hot pants combo reminiscent of Cherie Currie in her Runaways days. Highlights of glittery silver across her chest match perfectly with Kitty’s shoes; her shorter hair and kohl lined eyes giving her that rock chick aesthetic that makes you catch your breath.

‘Black Van’ was delivered with a ferocity that only Daisy can encompass, her vocals both perfectly melding and yet slicing through simultaneously Lewis’s stint on guitar complete with wah-wah pedal. Moving quickly to the keys, Daisy picks up a headless tambourine and accompanies Lewis on vocals as he sings ‘You’re so Fine’, easily melting the hearts of the ladies in the audience and encouraging many of the younger couples to break out in some jive moves. Having been on the scene for nearly eighteen years, this trio certainly know their stuff, and they give everything they have on stage tonight, despite the fact that they have played for the last two in a row. Their mix of blues, R&B, Soul, Punk and straight out Rock n Roll absolute.
Recently releasing their album Superscope a few new songs pepper the evening, welcome additions to what is already a stellar set list.

“We flew all the way from London to be here” Kitty tells the audience “It’s the last show of the New Zealand tour, it’s been short … but it’s been fucking good!” While it would be hard to imagine any of the siblings without the others, it has to be said that Kitty is the leader of the pack. Her hair in a high ponytail, a large silver Mercedes Benz emblem around her neck, she leads the charge on tracks, her voice lush and full with just the right amount of sex to it. Whether it is on vocals or guitar, or behind the skins, her vivacity is undeniable. But of course it wouldn’t be a Kitty, Daisy & Lewis show without a special guest, many of those in the audience already well aware of who is about to appear and baying for it. The arrival of eighty-six year old Jamaican Trumpeter ‘Tan Tan’ (Eddie Thorntorn) meet with howls of delight. Having begun his career in the 1950’s Tan Tan has played with everyone from The Beatles to Boney M, and is now a permanent fixture in the trio’s set having first joined together with them in 2008. Tan Tan’s trumpet playing and gorgeous little salutations bestowing “special blessings” on us all, adding yet another element to this already opulent evening of music.

But all good things must eventually come to an end, the crowd leading a rather English soccer styled chant for an encore convincing the trio to come back onto stage for three songs that saw Kitty writhe like a snake as she played the harmonica and moved along the front lip of the stage, breaking the hearts of all in her path. Blind Boy Paxton even made another appearance as he joined the Kitty, Daisy & Lewis gang on fiddle while they delivered their final song of the night ‘Mean Son of a Gun’, Paxton upon the song’s conclusion picking up each of the siblings in an embrace that left their feet dangling in their air, the collective love and spirit between everyone on stage evident to all.

And isn’t that what music is all about?

Kitty, Daisy & Lewis:
Blind Boy Paxton:

Were you there at the Powerstation for this magnificent multi-faceted gig? Or have you seen Kitty, Daisy and Lewis perform live at some other time? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Setlist:
  1. Slave
  2. It Ain’t Your Business
  3. Baby Bye Bye
  4. Black Van
  5. You’re So Fine
  6. Down On My Knees
  7. Just One Kiss
  8. The Game Is On
  9. Whole Lot Of Love
  10. Team Strong
  11. Turkish Delight
  12. Don’t Make A Fool
  13. Good Looking Woman
  14. No Action
  15. Going Up The Country
  16. Say You’ll Be Mine [encore]
  17. Tomorrow [encore]
  18. Mean Son Of A Gun [encore]

Superscope *

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