Dimmer, Auckland New Zealand, 2022


16th September 2022
Hollywood Avondale, Auckland, New Zealand

Review by Bridget Herlihy with photography by Doug Peters.

I fondly recall purchasing Dimmer’s debut album ‘I Believe You Are A Star’ when it was released back in 2001, curious to hear Shayne Carter’s enigmatic new project after the disbanding of the beloved Straightjacket Fits. It was apparent from the first listening some twenty years ago that it was a mesmerising album; one whose magic has not diminished one iota in the two decades since it was released.

When it was announced that Carter would be performing the album live in it’s entirety to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of its release, attending at least one of the shows was an absolute no-brainer. From the outset this promised to be a very special tour indeed.

Rarely performed live, ‘I Believe You Are A Star’ was predominantly created within the studio, so to “fully realise live representation of the album” Carter brought together a seven piece band for the series of live shows. The live band featured Dimmer contributors James Duncan (guitar), Gary Sullivan (drums), and Nick Roughan (keyboards/electronics, along with Lachlan Anderson (bass), Louisa Nicklin (guitar/vocals), Neive Strang (vocals/percussion), an assemblage of musicians that clearly gel together extremely well.

Tonight was the first of a three-night residency at the majestic Hollywood in Avondale, with the first two nights completely sold out. With the tour having been rescheduled several times over the last year (for obvious reasons), the anticipation and excitement of those in attendance was evident as they flowed into the venue, with many reminiscing about the first, or last, time they experienced Dimmer live.

The evening got off to a momentous start, courtesy of support act Proteins of Magic (aka Kelly Sherrod). To say that Sherrod conjures magic onstage would be a significant understatement. Having followed Proteins of Magic for some time, this was my first time witnessing her perform live, and the set was absolutely exquisite. Sherrod masterfully layers and loops sounds, building a rich and textured soundscape which beautifully juxtaposes melodies with heavier beats. Opening the set with ‘Cake’, a song she wrote about living in Tennessee, the ethereal sounds were accompanied with animated visuals the added an extra element of magic to the set. Sherrod’s stage presence commands attention, aptly summarised by the gentleman seated next to me who loudly proclaimed “she’s awesome” at the conclusion of each song. And indeed she is. With a set the included tracks from the latest and forthcoming Proteins of Magic albums, I look forward to seeing Sherrod play a full set in the very near future.

After a brief break, Dimmer emerged onto a stage bathed in blue light, which was very fitting given the colour scheme of the cover of ‘I Believe You Are A Star’, not to mention setting a perfect ‘vibe’ for the album’s brooding opening track ‘Drop You Off’. From the opening bars it was obvious that this was going to be a very special performance; one that exquisitely brought to life the additional dimensions of the live representation of the album that Carter sought to achieve. From the first song onwards Carter and his band held the audience in the palm of their hands with a set that was it’s own kind of epic as they played, and bantered, their way through the album from beginning to end. While the venue was seated, many audience members were quickly up and out of their seats and making their way to the front of the stage to fully immerse themselves in the experience.

While the highlights of Dimmer’s performance were many, one that really stood out was an extended version of ‘Seed’ that featured Carter and Nickling showcasing their guitar skills over a driving, relentless beat. If that song had continued for another ten minutes I don’t think a soul would have objected. Another highlight was ‘Evolution’ which was met with squeals of delight and rapturous applause, followed by an absolutely exquisite rendition of the moody ‘Smoke’, complete with stunning projections of blue and pink smoke on the screen behind the stage. Yet to be completely honest, the entire performance was an absolute delight to witness, and a very, very special experience in every way; from the performance of the album in its entirety, to the additional tracks from Dimmer’s exceptional back catalogue. With only a few dates remaining on this twentieth anniversary tour, it is without a shadow of a doubt a must-see.

Were you there at the Hollywood Theatre for this magnificent gig? Or have you seen Dimmer perform live somewhere else before? Tell us about it in the comments below!

Note: Ambient Light was provided passes to review and photograph this concert. As always, this has not influenced the review in any way and the opinions expressed are those of Ambient Light’s only. 

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