Live Review: Benjamin Witt Quartet, HAMJAM, Dumkarl

2 May 2016 | 4:46 pm | Scott Aitken

"The second song saw Witt's sax player bust out some sweet solos alongside Witt's fantastic guitar playing."

Despite the slightly dreary weather on Friday night, fans were lining up early to get entry to The Bird to see a great line-up of local talent culminating in the hotly anticipated headline performance from Benjamin Witt who was performing new material.

Kicking off the night was Mudlark's Steven Bovenizer performing under his new electronic moniker Dumkarl. Bovenizer started the set off with a flurry of looped samples before switching guitar, but started encountering some technical difficulties with his equipment. Nevertheless, the enthusiastic crowed were supportive and eventually enamoured by the performance.

Two-piece HAMJAM played a tight set despite the band, in singer Hamish Rahn's words, drinking cough syrup and San Pellegrino all day. The band performed a tight version of a new song before dedicating a cover of Chris Issak's Wicked Game to a member of the audience named Andrew, with Rahn prefacing the song as one "about unrequited love," before adding more seriously, "One day, I will fuck you."

The band continued on with another new song, before finishing the set with a blistering version of Cooked that ended with Rahn taking an extended solo while James Ireland slowly reduced the tempo of the backing drum samples and synthesiser, leading to huge applause from the audience as the band quickly dashed off stage.

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Just after 11pm, the inside of The Bird was packed as the Benjamin Witt Quartet plugged in and got the crowd warmed up with some upbeat afro-inspired dance music that got the audience dancing in the tight space of the dancefloor. The second song saw Witt's sax player bust out some sweet solos alongside Witt's fantastic guitar playing before the two performed a track together with Witt handling synthesiser and harmonica duties.

After that the other two members of the band came back on to perform the upbeat new track Dead Fish, which got a huge round of applause from the audience, before closing the set out with another track featuring some stinging Robert Fripp-style guitar licks from Witt over a discordant melody that turned into a funked-up jam. The song had people dancing away until midnight, capping off a fantastic performance from the musician and a great night of music.