Barnes plays hits but without fire

Last updated 10:34 04/01/2013
Jimmy Barnes
Jimmy Barnes failed to hit high gear in Lower Hutt on Wednesday.

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REVIEW: Jimmy Barnes w/ Gin Wigmore and Thomas Oliver Band

Station Village Complex, Lower Hutt, Wednesday, January 2

Australian rocker Jimmy Barnes was in cruise-control mode this time around - many of the pieces that please (Driving Wheels, Working Class Man) arrived very late in the set, ambling over the line.

Last summer he wowed - but that was on the back of the Cold Chisel reunion; the passion was palpable.

This show felt like a bonus paycheque, with Barnes' summer sojourn now as predictable as Boxing Day sales.

The same lineup, featuring Barnes' son on drums and one of his daughters on backing vocals, was more than capable of pushing the workmanlike pub-rock fare into place, with Charlie Owen's slide guitar a stunning feature at times.

But there wasn't the fire.

Even Flame Tree was lacking, an old racehorse strolling around the track.

Numbers were down, too - the crowd smaller than last year and despite several slow, frightening bogan mating-call slow-dance moves during Too Much Ain't Enough Love there was, overall, less enthusiasm to match the less dynamic set.

The cover of Dylan's Seven Days sounded like Meat Loaf impersonating Van Morrison.

It did not play to Jimmy Barnes' strengths.

Or perhaps it did.

Where last year's tour was augmented with Kiwi icons Hello Sailor and Dragon, a perfect fit, this year the curtain was raised by The Thomas Oliver Band.

There were some whoops and hollers during a prosaic reading of the Eric Clapton favourite, Cocaine - even if the guitar sounded a bit like a lawnmower.

The end result was a bit like walking in on Joe Bonamassa crying himself to sleep amid an emotional outpouring because of some failure to be recognised as a blues purist, having completed the expert-setting on Guitar Hero.

Gin Wigmore pleased the crowd - and arguably delivered the set of the night.

But all her songs sound the same, a faux angry stomp with geeky dancing.

It's as if someone waved the magic wand over a supermarket checkout operator gifting her Macy Gray's voice, momentarily.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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