Following a much heralded performance at Auckland’s Laneway Festival in the heat of the last New Zealand summer, Vancouver rock duo Japandroids returned to the South Pacific with more than a little bit of buzz around them.
Guitarist/frontman Brian King and drummer David Prowse could be forgiven for being a bit jaded following a gruelling world tour in support of their widely acclaimed sophomore record Celebration Rock. Wellington was to be the second to last leg of the entire jaunt, with the final date in Auckland the following night.
Despite ample excuses available to them for weariness, Japandroids appear fired up to do once again what they love the most: thrash out their own brand of loud, sing-along rock anthems for their audience.
As it happens, the duo couldn’t have picked two better words to describe what they are about than those used to title their second album. Japandroids are all about youthful exuberance and the good times, namely girls, alcohol, and punk rock. What they lack in musical and lyrical subtlety (they’re a two piece band, for Christ’s sake) they more than make up for in energy and noise.
As the band have intimated, Celebration Rock and it’s predecessor Post-Nothing are primarily songs that have been written with live performance in mind. King told US website Pitchfork that for the songs on their second album the duo took into consideration how the audience would react to them, helping to explain the prevalence of sing along choruses and thrashing power chords.
The expectant crowd don’t appear disappointed by the lively versions of stand-out album tracks ‘The House That Heaven Built’, ‘Evil’s Sway’ and ‘The Nights of Wine And Roses, chanting the ‘oh yeah’ and ‘oh oh oh’ choruses back at the band with gusto.
Guitarist Brian King engages enthusiastically with the audience in the tight, sweaty arena throughout, ensuring the lively Wellington crowd expel as much energy as the band, particularly during the chaotic encore.
A couple of self-proclaimed “slow jams” the band indulge in mid-show decelerate the euphoria slightly (perhaps giving King and Prowse a little bit of a breather) but Japandroids are without question a forceful and compelling live act.
If it’s hard rocking, sing-along anthems that you’re after which get your body moving, you could do much worse than spend a couple of hours in the company of these guys.