GIG REVIEW: Tones and I @ The Corner Hotel

Welcome back to the Marshall Street Studios Blog! I’m so sorry there was no entry last week, I was away in Auckland and didn’t want to rush a mediocre post, so we took a hiatus and now I’m back with a mission – a mission to tell you about the Tones and I – SOLD OUT – gig at The Corner Hotel last night. I’m spending an awful lot of time there lately.

Photo credit: @maddyyjamieson

Tones and I (born Toni Watson) started at the reasonable time of 9:45pm. I arrived at the perfect time, Tones took to the stage not 5 minutes after I’d found myself a spot on the raised platform to the back of the bandroom. She came out dancing to an upbeat intro, and energy was high. This was going to be a good show. But then… the music stopped, and she approached the keyboard, and started the set with a ballad. This wasn’t necessarily bad, just unusual, and definitely unexpected. I’ve seen a lot of live music in my time, and you get used to a set progressing in a certain way, with the tempo slowing down around the middle. I really liked the song, and the lyrics, which expressed that you ‘can’t be happy all the time’. However, I couldn’t help but feel that we were already in the middle of the gig – it would have been good to keep that initial energy high, and go straight into a track that we could dance to. 

Right off the back of her first song, Watson jumped into Never Seen The Rain, my personal favourite track of her existing releases. THIS could have been the opener! Regardless, I sang along as best I could while surrounded by middle-aged men and women (raising the age-average a few points, I must say, and I got stuck with them loudly talking over a lot of the show… but this is a story for another time). I was excited to see what direction Tones would take next. 

As the show went on, she brought high energy, amazing vocals, and funny anecdotes between songs. Tones and I is such a special artist, with an undoubtedly interesting sound and unique story. She has gone stratospheric faster than any other artist I can think of (off the top of my head), and if that weren’t enough, she’s done it without turning into a one hit wonder. She already has three hits in the first year of her reign.

Photo Credit: @ezgroundy

I was a massive fan of the two covers she played throughout the show: Drop The Game, by Flume and Chet Faker, which came in 5th on the 2013 Hottest 100; and the timeless classic, Forever Young by the aptly named Youth Group (originally by Alphaville). She spilled the beans that the latter would be her Like A Version cover. Her manager was not impressed. Tones managed to make both covers completely her own, creating a long, drawn out intro to Drop The Game before going into the sultry lyrics, that her iconic voice made completely new. With Forever Young, Tones started slow on the keyboard, staying true to the original. As the song progressed, she added a beat and the true Tones and I remix came out, before bringing it back down to Earth for the finish. 

I have to take this moment to give tracks Monday Train and You’re So Fucking Cool a shoutout, these guys were the unknown underdogs of the show, and I hope Tones releases them soon. You’re So Fucking Cool really stood out to me, Toni told a story about how she got invited to a party in LA, and she felt like all people cared about was money and status, and no-one really talked to her. But she observed that they weren’t really talking to each other, either. I’m paraphrasing here, but she expressed that she would rather just be herself than spend so much time and energy trying to be cool all the time – or at least that’s what I took from it. Then she wrote this song about it. It was catchy and one of a kind – no shock given the artist behind it. 

Coming out of the show, I felt like I wanted to go and write happy, feel-good music. Not only is Tones and I mega talented, but her music means something. It stands up for those who were bullied or hard done by, it provides a voice for those who may not have it at the time – something we see in the flesh through hit song Johnny Run Away, and Jimmy. And while some of her songs may be about sad subjects, they’re written to happy pop melodies, which appeal to (almost) everyone. What a way to get a message across! 

It seems like the kids have well and truly arrived!
Photo credit: @roxyanne

I think as Toni Watson progresses in her career, her show will get more fine-tuned, she will gain more confidence in her banter with the audience, and there might even be room for a band to join her up there one day. But for now, looking at an artist who is 19 and just been catapulted into unimaginable fame, I see a mature young woman who has her head screwed on, tunnel-vision focus, an impressive voice and talent for songwriting, and I was very impressed. 

Are there any gigs you want me to check out and review? Send an email through to or message me on IG @alexcarpimusic

See you next week!


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