Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Otis Mace - The Tom Waits of New Zealand

Well it's Christmas time and the bells are ringing. But the hardest man in the Auckland rocknroll scene is still hard at work. Otis Mace guitar ace is getting ready to preform at The Dogs Bollix and the date is the 22nd of December 2013. The year is almost out and Santa is gearing up on his sleigh. I bet i'll be getting a piece of coal for all the bad things i've done this year. Despite the lingering insult from Saint Nicholas I'm very glad to be attending Otis Mace's intimate RockNRoll Christmas show. There's even a xmas tree in the corner and it really does add some ambience to the corner. The bar is also looking very well-stocked and thats always good. Paul is manning the door. I slip him my cover charge and troop off to find myself a sweet seat with a scribbled purple heart across my wrist, ha who needs stamps. I quickly find my ideal seat and kick back and wait for the dope NZ music talent to roll out. This my friends is a real NZ music show all that other stuff in May is for posers. Unlike the corporates Otis is a man that represents NZ music all year round every year and  every day!! and that deserves some respect man! Settling into the newly renovated venue I get introduced to Kristie the wife of the bassist of Inside Out. She's playing before Otis.  She tells me we've meet before and it must have been at the gig we played with her husband at Windsor Castle, man that was a brilliant show. I can't wait to hear the bands up coming album, it's also nice to see a friendlie. The atmosphere is civil in the bar and very well behaved I might even go so far as to say there is a feeling of genuine happiness lingering.

I scan the room and see the giant sound-desk about two tables down from me in my perfect seat. I've also managed to get my hands on a Black Porter from the friendly bartender. The glass my beer has been served in isn't typical either its kinda  medieval and lets face it 'old-skool' never goes out of style. For a moment I pause and take a break from writing. The performances is almost upon us and I plan to write in real time so I need to rest up. A highlight of the gig I know is going to be the steel-guitar player John Segovia accompanying Otis tonight. I'm also eager to hear some of Kristie's latest songs. You know Auckland city doesn't seem like much but on the right night she sure is pretty. 

Kristie is the first to take the stage and pulls out a beautiful acoustic guitar from a road worn case. Her husband couldn't make it tonight,  he usually plays the soaring guitar solo's, but despite this the music begins to flow. Three rude ex-patrons walk past her just before she launches into a fantastic set (idiots). It's a minimal sound from Kristie tonight just a lonesome acoustic and vocals, but it's tops because the sound isn't cluttered and everyone at the show  can grasp the meaningful lyrics and enthralled by the playful melodies. She really starts to hit her stride with her third song "Ragdoll". This particular song well-crafted and the key of the song key compliments her range perfectly. Consequently the song was in my opinion the best of the night, in many ways due to the flawless singing of this young and impressive songwriter. 

The next song Chrsitie preforms is about her documenting the gigs she's played on the road. Apparently she has played over 300 gigs in the last 2 years, what an achievement!! and a serious feat of endurance. The song was meant to be scattered with lots of long guitar solos but her husband/guitarist isn't here so she cuts it short. I really enjoyed the riff of the road song she was playing. But Christie isn't messing round and she's into another number and this time she's in the zone and excelling, the whole room is too. The guitar playing is a complex pattern picked with multiple fingers like a Bob Dylan song that escapes me. Next thing you know the chorus is here and it doesn't let you down. The lyrics muse about the chances of finding someone to love. And hey we all know those chances aren't the best but in-between all the car crash relationships and heartbreaks this song seems to make them all feel worth it. It's a rare song that can make you feel this way (happy) and it's an even rarer songwriter that can lead you there.
Kristie's Music with her brilliant band "Transit of Venus"

It's also really important to mention that Otis Mace mixed the sound for Kristie's set in about 2 minutes flat and I have to commend him as it held up tremendously. It's so good not to have a drunken monkey eqing the living daylight out of the sonics! It also creates a surreal feeling with no one behind the boards kind of like out of a horror movie. With all the blood red bricks lining the walls like the inside of a tomb we're having a frightfully good time. Kristie's set draws to a close and It's become painfully obvious this young woman has some raw talent. The best type in my opinion. She's got some solid respect from me for getting up there and giving it heaps. I'd really like to hear some dope recordings by her with someone who knows what their doing producing.  Maybe a warm tapey analog set-up would really make  her shine recorded.

However, the show must go on and at last Otis has arrived. His first set is an acoustic ensemble. The first track played by the roughish guitar player is "Kinder-Suprise" and it proves a good warm-up. His second song is even better being an evocative "I Remember You". I particularly liked the story he told the audience for this song. It was a tale about his younger self trying to sell a song  to a big star, convinced he would get paid a fortune. You Nashville bastards should have bought it, but even they wouldn't have been able to do it this much justice tonight. By his third song "You Can't Buy that Type of Attention" he's producing stunning performances. You can tell when a veteran muso is hitting their stride kind of like a gambler on a winning streak everything they do just becomes gold. The aforementioned song is just pure Otis Mace. It has that organic propulsion that just can't help but make you cherry up and be thankful to be alive. My favorite line of the song is "success is the best revenge" and ain't that the truth. Apparently not long ago he played the song in London and a German man in the crowd couldn't understand what he was saying. At the German's bidding Otis almost lost control of the crowd that was quickly turning rabid. In the end the guitar slinger had to stamp down on  the stage. Little did he know this action would end the life of a giant cockroach under his foot. The crowd after they heard this started to calm down but the German man still didn't believe him. In the end the man had to come up on stage at Otis bidding to see that it was in fact true, the disgusting bug was dead as could be.

The next part of Otis show was riff heavy and electrically charged. He slung on his telecaster guitar and turned the volume up. The song is loud but good loud and the lyrics are singing about shopping at some trashy joint. It's a bit of a mind warp and I'm enjoying it because who doesn't like a good RockNRoll mind warp!! The song has a some serious speed to it like a throttling 1966 Mustang (just like my friend Owen has). Otis is enjoying himself and why not indeed "lets go shopping all day long" hell its Christmas after all. A nice finish with a plunky swaggerfulled riff is all we need and then its back into the sonic chorus. 

Observing Otis and identify with my cunning eye that he's now in full on charm mode and is doing what he does best massaging the crowd into a state of loving  euphoria. He even says "though your a small crowd you make me feel like I could have another relationship". The slide guitars warble in and then we are caught up in a classy performance about musings about new relationships (the best kind) even if they don't manifest in the song, hey sometimes thats the breaks. I actually believe Volita's childhood friends dad is playing slide and he's a real master! Words can't describe his performance well one could perfect oh my god and then the man goes into a solo and were in all honest witnessing something great right in front of eyes. Thankfully it ends to much of a good thing can be great though and people get some more drinks. Despite ingesting a potentially lethal burrito (joking haha) i'm feeling great. I wander off to get another beer because all this typing is making me mighty thirsty. New relationships now Otis is talking about something profound there, I didn't see any on the menu but believe me I would've bought a few if they were. 

After a break Otis begins the song of the night. It's about a young couple who are faced with making a tough decision. I wonder to myself whether it is biographical. The song makes me feel jolly and festive. The soaring twin guitar solos in the intro set the tone and my ears are perking up all sorts of crazy. I never was one to see a good song go by under appreciated or a woman. Otis singing is in my opinion off the bloody meter, I mean it's bloody good. This song if well produced could work on radio, Otis you beauty. The slide guitar is again perfect. The song is singing about declarations of love, good jobs and wealth all things I like. I've got to say this songs performance is worldclass i'm feeling really proud of Otis. 
 Finally the last song of the night is about a good looking woman called Tracey. A woman that in the running of the song becomes apparent needs to answer her letters better. Otis was romantically entangled with this Tracey he tells us but never heard back from the wench, ain't that the way the cards fall sometimes. "Why won't you write to me Tracey? You said you would but? you didn't". Dis-regarding this minor problem in the Otis love life back in the day it becomes clear Tracey had a great pair of legs on her. Stunning enough to write a song about them. Well they sure must have been a great pair of pins Tracey? I told Otis later she should have just mailed up her legs if she couldn't be bothered writing! Otis would've paid postage I reckon. Anyway i've got to stop writing and take a break this has been one hell of a show at the Dogs Bollix tonight and I'm calling time. After all Santa's on his way. 
 F@ck You Corporate Twats get a case of Otis Mace :) TMR
Follow Him at: https://twitter.com/OtisMace

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