Live reviews + concert photos

Concert reviews by Graham Reid. Many of these come  (where noted) with live photos by Garry Brandon who has been a concert and commercial photographer for decades in New Zealand. All such images copyright Garry Brandon, whose website of archival concert and other work is here.

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MARLON WILLIAMS, REVIEWED (2021): Music, art, performance and quiet drama

28 Mar 2021  |  2 min read

Some New Zealand artists have understood the power and importance of presentation when it comes to a show – Split Enz being the most obvious – while others simply get on stage in what looks like they got up in that morning and do the bare business. At it's most dull it can be the head-down, studied indifference of the so-called indie or alternative bands. The music... > Read more

TH'DUDES, REVIEWED (2020): Right first and last time

27 Nov 2020  |  4 min read

A few weeks ago at a family function I was talking with Daniel, the bass player in the Auckland rock band Racing. We were bemoaning – among other things – the fact that somewhat vacuous soul-funk-reggae pop has such a foothold on the local scene and that there weren't as many rock bands as there once was. And Racing are a rock band. A second generation rock band at that.... > Read more

THE BETHS, REVIEWED (2020): The sheer pleasures of certainties

7 Nov 2020  |  4 min read

The group of about 10 excitable teenage girls – probably age 15, dressed to party, one with a large love heart in lipstick on her cheek – were sitting on the ground outside the Auckland Town Hall. They were there early to be first in the queue and at 7pm they certainly were. The Beths, the award-winning and increasingly acclaimed Auckland four-piece, weren't going to be on... > Read more

GRAMSCI, REVIEWED (2020): Sobering thoughts for staging a show

17 Oct 2020  |  4 min read

Many weeks ago during the second Covid lockdown in Auckland, Paul McLaney – mainman behind his Gramsci project – spoke via Zoom to my third-year music at Auckland university. I first met McLaney at some time in the late Eighties/early Nineties when, as a singer-songwriter under his own name, he launched his extraordinary career which has seen him follow that thread but also move... > Read more

PAT METHENY, REVIEWED? (2020): Uber killed the taxi curb-car

12 Mar 2020  |  3 min read  |  3

The exceptional American guitarist Pat Metheny played one of those gig which jazz aficionados love . . . and those who don't “get” it just hate. I fell between the two. But first let me tell you about just getting to the gig because that may have some bearing on what and how I experienced it. Before the show at the Auckland Town Hall as part of the Auckland Arts... > Read more

QUEEN + ADAM LAMBERT REVIEWED (2020): Doing a time warp again

22 Feb 2020  |  2 min read

Beneath today’s creative, often innovative music across the spectrum lies a bedrock audience that prefers the comfort of the familiar. Witness Sir Elton John on his three-year victory-lap-cum-farewell tour, playing to capacity crowds hits that are almost half a century old. The suggestion of a new Abba album this year – almost 40 years since their last –... > Read more

ELTON JOHN REVIEWED (2020): Still a Captain Fantastic, despite everything

17 Feb 2020  |  5 min read

Back at the dawn of recorded time, 1971 in fact, I saw Elton John's first New Zealand appearance when he played at Western Springs. And there were a few worrying moments last night at Mt Smart when I thought I might be seeing his last. Fresh from playing the Mission Estate show the previous night Elton and his crack band – dark suits, white shirts, skinny black ties – took... > Read more

ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, REVIEWED (2019): Sit back and let the evening go . . .

29 Jul 2019  |  3 min read

Because their music created such a disruption in popular music when they appeared, the Beatles were impossible to ignore. Almost immediately there were parodies and sniping (the Howard Morrison Quartet's I Want to Cut Your Hair) but also serious artists recognising there was something in what Lennon-McCartney wrote which was worth exploring (Ella Fitzgerald's take on Can't Buy Me Love... > Read more

THE MONKEES REVIEWED (2019): The last train to Pastville

10 Jun 2019  |  4 min read  |  3

Two days after telling a friend I was a bit over all the touring nostalgia acts – not the least the UK punk-era bands trotting themselves out again – we went to see the Monkees at the Auckland Town Hall. Well more correctly, Mikey Dolenz, Mike Nesmith and their five-piece band (plus two women backing singers) in a concert announced as the “Mike and Mickey... > Read more

LITTLE STEVEN AND THE DISCIPLES OF SOUL (2019): The rock'n'soul missionary

28 Apr 2019  |  3 min read

The best gigs, shows, concerts and events have a sense of occasion, something almost transcendent where the artist and the audience somehow create something bigger than just a performance. Anticipation was certainly high that Steven Van Zandt – of Springsteen's E Street Band and many solo projects – and his big rock'n'soul band would do that. From the opening salvo of Sweet... > Read more

CHER CONCERT REVIEW (2018): Stop the clocks . . .

23 Sep 2018  |  5 min read

You have to admire Cher, she might not be able to turn back time but she can certainly freeze iconic moments from her illustrious past. Take the closing overs of this 100 minute concert-cum-theatre production at the Spark Arena, Auckland when it was clear the clock was ticking and she had yet to play her two identifying songs: If I Could Turn Back Time (from '89) and Believe ('98).... > Read more

BOB DYLAN CONCERT REVIEW (2018): He actually is a “song and dance man”

27 Aug 2018  |  3 min read  |  3

The time has long since passed when a review of a Bob Dylan concert would be a critique. An explanation or a consideration would be more likely. And, if it isn't a good show – and there have been many in the past few decades which have been woeful – the charitable reviewer might turn into an apologist, explaining away the shortcoming of this legendary figure. No need for... > Read more

PUBLIC SERVICE BROADCASTING (2018): The future in a rearview mirror.

4 May 2018  |  2 min read

It's a peculiar thing which London's Public Service Broadcasting have achieved, they make thrilling and heroic music which is emotionally uplifting, yet they weld that out of references to a past which is so distant to many that it should seem remote and lacking in any contemporary engagement. Welsh collieries for god's sake? This in an age where coal is considered Satan's black breath... > Read more

WOMAD TARANAKI 2018 CONSIDERED: On y va, jump jump

20 Mar 2018  |  12 min read  |  1

There's an interesting performance area at the Womad festival in Taranaki which most people just make a passing glance at. It's a steep bank on the side of the Bowl of Brooklands beneath the path which leads to the tiny Dell Stage and the front of the main TSB Bowl. Here low branches hang from trees and so kids by the dozen gather there and dig up the dirt to make holes and slides,... > Read more

Ghizlane, by Noura Mint Seymali

CECILE McLORIN SALVANT REVIEWED (2018): Rare, gifted and jazz

16 Mar 2018  |  2 min read

In the course of a lifetime you can see any number of great concerts and entertainers, but only rarely do you see a genuinely gifted artist, one so in command of their art that they make the difficult seem effortless, and the impossible achievable. And if they can do it with humour, understated but pointed stagecraft and a remarkable voice you are tempted to say – as you might... > Read more

FROM SCRATCH REVIEWED (2018): The re-percussions of a hocket in the pocket

11 Mar 2018  |  4 min read  |  1

Some music requires, insists on and even demands a different kind of listening. So it it has always been with From Scratch, the percussion ensemble which formed in the mid Seventies around its sole constant Philip Dadson and which has morphed into different configurations and musical direction in its – all too intermittent – performances since. An appearance by From... > Read more

AUCKLAND CITY LIMITS FESTIVAL 2018 CONSIDERED: Pull up to the hard rock, baby

4 Mar 2018  |  10 min read

Those who can't, won't or don't go to festivals early miss out on some impressive acts, like local trio Wax Chattels who delivered a blinder of a set at the recent Laneway. Often the openers are artists on the cusp of making a name for themselves but have to play to what must seem depressingly small audiences. As the... > Read more

ERSATZ ZEPPELINS IN CONCERTS (2017) The battle of . . . even more

5 Nov 2017  |  6 min read  |  1

Around the time of the launch of the first Beatles' Anthology collection in '95 – kicked off by the “new” song Free As a Bird – the lonely voices from the balcony became a chorus: Would Julian Lennon – who had now emerged as a fairly credible singer and songwriter – join the remaining Threetles as a kind intergeneration resurrection of the much loved... > Read more

TARANAKI WOMAD CONSIDERED (2017): Another Womarathon of world music

21 Mar 2017  |  13 min read  |  2

The best speeches by dignitaries are short and, fortunately, they were when the Taranaki Womad launched last Friday. The most memorable comment – aside from the figure of $104 million brought into the region by the Womad festivals over previous years – came from the mayor of the New Plymouth District Council, Neil Holdom. He looked delighted to be there and welcomed... > Read more

Elas, by Mercedes Peon

SJD and Shayne Carter, Mercury Theatre, Auckland, October 10 2015

11 Oct 2015  |  2 min read

In his funny, insightful and barely disguised autobiographical novel The Big Wheel of 1990, Bruce Thomas – then the former bassist with Elvis Costello's Attractions – tells of meeting up with the Costello character after the band had broken up a few years previous. The once acerbic, angry and country-punk Costello figure — whom Thomas simply refers to as The Singer... > Read more