19th May 2017
REC, Auckland, New Zealand.
Review and Photography by Sarah Kidd.
The line for the door is already stretching past the building and is about to tip around the corner. Tickets for the show have long ago sold out, and desperate pleas for any spares have been popping up all over the Facebook event. Louis Baker is a hot item at the moment and for very good reason; with several singles now under his belt, the kid with the voice like honey and a smile that can light up a room, is on everyone’s play list. Tonight he is playing REC bar in Auckland with a full live band, something – Baker stated in a recent interview, that he particularly enjoys.
As the lights dim and the crowd begins to whistle and cheer, the first of the band members begin to make their way up onto the stage, quickly followed by the man of the moment himself. Baker dressed in a black t-shirt and maroon bomber style jacket, a simple yet stunning pounamu hanging from his neck is certainly not hard on the eye; and judging by the first few rows of fans he certainly has plenty of female admirers who would agree. As he picks up his guitar the crowd quiets, eagerly awaiting that sweet voice to pour forth, and as Baker sang the first few lines from his opening song ‘Even In The Darkness’ they were not disappointed.
There is a quality to Baker; a sense of comfort that can be found within both his words and tone that makes him so endearing. He could easily perform the set solo as his talents with the guitar are larger than life, however the addition of the backing band, round out the sound and allow for a more full bodied performance. Johnny Lawrence on bass and Dan Hayles on keyboards play off of each other wonderfully, while Cory Champion on drums sets the tempo for each of the songs, It’s been two years since Baker has played a live show in either Auckland or his home town of Wellington, so it is of little surprise that both nights have sold out so quickly. His latest singles have garnered him many a new fan, with over 6.5 million streams on Spotify alone.
Moving through the first few songs, Baker pauses to introduce his most recent single ‘Addict’, many in the audience letting out a whoop of delight; Baker, visibly pleased by the fact that people already know the song. His performance of this gorgeous R&B style track is absolutely smouldering, everyone giving themselves over to the sultry rhythm as they sway back and forth. Baker punctuates the song in places with a soulful cry, allowing the briefest of glimpses into the full power of his voice. “I wrote this song as a reminder; don’t let others bring you down” Baker tells the audience before performing the inspirational ‘Letters to Myself’. He follows with a stunning solo rendition of the song ‘Birds’ on an acoustic guitar while his band takes a short break.
Baker once again addresses the audience, his voice soft yet assuring; “Yesterday I heard of the terrible loss of Chris Cornell” – the audience murmuring in agreement, many still in shock of the recent news – “I feel that we have already lost so many amazing artists, so this is my dedication to one that I was lucky enough to see up here in Auckland with just his piano, you might recognise this one” And as the on stage lights slowly took on a purple tinge, Baker began to play those infamous opening notes of the Prince classic ‘Purple Rain’, a true colossus of a song, however one that Baker absolutely did justice of, losing himself within its splendour. “We still here?” Baker smiles “Whew, got lost there for a second, lost in the music that is” he smiles, once again lighting up the room and catching you off guard with that natural charm. And that’s one of the most appealing facets of Baker, the fact that he is completely genuine, that that tiny current of nervousness just beneath the surface is not for the cute factor but because he is human, just like everyone else.
Baker once again takes the tempo back up, inviting the audience to participate in a little singing during ‘Get Back’ which they eagerly comply with, the interaction between the two generating a whole new energy in the room. ‘Remain’ allows each of the band members to shine, Baker – being the gentleman that he is – stepping over to the side of the stage as each one excels on their selected instrument, the crowd applauding loudly for the collective on stage talent. He finishes his set with ‘Gave It All Away’, but not before thanking his manager Cushla Aston, someone who he credits heavily with his success and for assisting him to be where he is today.
With demands for an encore occurring within seconds of Baker leaving the stage he swiftly returns, band in tow, thanking the audience for their generosity. “You always go offstage and hope that that happens” he laughs. “This is for a special, special girl – Rainbow”, Baker dedicating his final song of the night to his girlfriend. With a performance of such caliber, it is easy to see why Louis Baker is the name on the tip of everyone’s tongue.
Were you there at REC for this magnificent show? Or have you seen Louis Baker live somewhere else? Tell us about it in the comments below!
- Even In The Darkness
- Dive In
- Letters To Myself
- Purple Rain [Prince – cover]
- Just Want To Thank You
- Get Back
- Gave It All Away
- Rainbow [encore]
This review is a part of our NZ Music Month coverage, celebrating new and upcoming Kiwi artists. For more information on Louis Baker you can visit his website, or follow him on Youtube, Facebook and Instagram. For more information on NZ Music Month you can visit their website.