• Sarah Kidd @ Ambient Light blog

P.O.D @ The Studio

Having formed almost twenty-six years ago, San Diego natives P.O.D have easily garnered one of the most dedicated fan base followings that a band could wish to have. So it was no great surprise that people were already lining up outside the doors of Auckland’s own The Studio long before opening time.

Once inside fans were treated to not one but two outstanding New Zealand support acts to start their night off with a bang.

Armed In Advance have been doing the rounds lately and it has certainly paid off over the last twelve months; not only has the band gained more followers but they have evolved into an entity that is far stronger in stage presence and musically tighter. While only a three piece they pack a mighty punch, as proved with their opener ‘Blood On Your Harem’ which is one of those slow burner tracks that ages like a fine wine. Led by JP Carroll on both lead guitar and vocals, the band take the very appreciative audience through a short but well put together set list that includes their single ‘Shallow’.

One things for sure, bassist Hugh Hokopaura – who never fails to bring his own style of flair to the party – wanted to ensure that everyone had a good night, encouraging the crowd to “drink up and get into it”.

Finishing on ‘Banquet’ and once again Armed in Advance proved just why they are a band to keep looking out for.

With eye catching banners – one of which depicted a demonic nun – the four piece known as Coridian took to the stage amid the cheers of some very enthusiastic fans. Having released their first EP entitled Oceanic in 2015, they are certainly no stranger to the stage and it shows in their performance; powerhouse vocalist Dity Maharaj leading the charge the moment he lets his vocal chords fly. Showcasing their most recent work, Coridian take the audience through the first three tracks of their latest EP (released late last year) entitled Caldera.

Coridian have an interesting dynamic; made up of three brothers who cover the instrumental section of the band, there often appears to be an unspoken intuition that knits their performances together. Dressed in black the Raven brothers (Mike, Kris and Nick respectively) work as a well-oiled machine; the gear box of which is Maharaj, his vocals taking the band from a hum to a scream within seconds. Coming off the back of the hard-hitting ‘Better Off’, Coridian move smoothly into ‘Seed’ the song building in intensity and infusing some almost middle-eastern tinged flavours into its harmony which both catches and hold your attention.

After thanking the fans and bidding one and all goodnight, the band finish on ‘Blind Faith’, Maharaj expending every last drop of energy that he has as he impressively bounces across the stage catching serious air. With the band currently working on their debut album, expect to hear bigger and better things from Coridian coming your way soon.

As the hands of the clock crept past the hour of ten, P.O.D fans steeled themselves, ready for what they already knew in their hearts would be a fantastic night. Last here in 2009 it has certainly been a long wait for not only them, but the band itself it seems, all four members stating that Auckland, New Zealand is one of their favourite cities to be in. As the lights went out the cheers rose from its depths, those along the front of the barrier stretching out their arms as if in a gesture of both love and support, P.O.D often referring to their fans as family. Tonight in particular is a special performance, as they have promised to play the entirety of their fourth album entitled Satellite [2001] – along with of course some added bonus tracks from some of the impressive nine studio albums that they have to choose from.

Stepping up to the microphone, singer Sonny Sandoval barely looks like he has aged a day; “What’s up people? P.O.D., San Diego! Let’s have a good time, this is your rock show!” , raising his fist high in the air he holds it for a few seconds before bringing it down with intent, the band kicking in, and a wall of sound hitting the crowd with the classic ‘Set It Off’. In fact the first four songs off the album are all killer with no filler; fans immediately recognizing the opening notes of ‘Alive’, Sandoval genuinely looking beyond pleased as he signals for the crowd to sing the chorus which they do so without a moment’s hesitation. Moving straight into ‘Boom’ and those in the front row can barely contain themselves as Sandoval moves down towards the barrier, his eyes locking on those of several fans. If that wasn’t already a winning trifecta, P.O.D. go one better, their anthem and arguably one of the biggest songs of their career ‘Youth of a Nation’ almost making the walls rattle with the reverberation of hundreds of impassioned fans singing together.

Barely a quarter of the way into the show and P.O.D. have already brought the goods, both bassist Traa Daniels and guitarist Marcos Curiel – who throughout the night demonstrates that he has quite the chops as well in the role of backing vocals – providing outstanding performances. But of course where would P.O.D. be without the mighty Noah Bernado Jr aka ‘Wuv’ pounding away on the drums, his style one of clean simplicity that delivers pile driver beats.While P.O.D. (aka Payable On Death) certainly rose in status during the nu-metal era, they encompass far much more, both their punk roots and that uniquely SoCal flavour coming through on tracks such as ‘Ridiculous’ and the riotous ‘Without Jah, Nothin’ which saw the crowd let loose. So much so that it prompted Sandoval to call for the house lights to be raised. Encouraging the fans to start a circle pit, he led the band once again through the first verse of ‘Without Jah, Nothing.

‘Thinking About Forever’ brought a wondrous sense of calm to the room, Curiel’s beautifully restrained solo complimenting the track. “This song is about Jesus” Sandoval informed the crowd as he introduced the last song of the evening ‘Portrait’, “I’m sorry if that offends you. But I still love you”; Sandoval pulling out all the stops with his performance as his outstretched hands appeared to pull the very sky down towards him, his vocals – which had wavered on some of the slower tracks – once again coming back through on full thrust. But P.O.D weren’t quite ready to go home just yet, instead they embarked on a journey through many of their hits, punctuating the extended set list with a taste of what’s to come as they dropped their latest single ‘Soundboy Killa’, Sandoval advising the crowd that once they get back home they will be straight into the studio, a new album planned for the summer.

After a final humorous debate on what track they would close the night on (Sandoval winning out with the love song ‘Will You’) P.O.D ended the show in style, Noah coming down from behind the kit to hand out some drumsticks while others scrambled for set lists.

Longevity and comradery – a formula that certainly works well for P.O.D.

Photo Credit: Matt Henry Photography


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