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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

SIMON THACKER'S RITMATA ENSEMBLE REVIEWED (2015): An intimate stamping of the musical passport

10 Sep 2015  |  4 min read

Given the musical breadth, geographic width and emotional depth of Simon Thacker's music it was disappointing that his sole Auckland concert — the final on a nine-date New Zealand tour — should be held in such a small room as the 1885/CJC club and only be attended by a modestly sized, if enthusiastic, audience. But that too often seems to be the way of it these days for an... > Read more

Jamie McDell, Crystal Palace, Auckland. May 16, 2015

18 May 2015  |  6 min read

In the many decades before television, people would dress up and go to the movies, and so there were cinemas in most small towns, and in the suburbs of major cities. In Auckland up until the mid Sixties there were a dozen movie theatres on, and immediately around, Queen Street. Today only three remain: the Classic (now a comedy club), the abandoned St James and of course the mighty... > Read more

Let It Be; A Beatles Celebration, Civic Theatre, Auckland, March 26 2015

27 Mar 2015  |  6 min read

There's a very simple answer to the question of why people go to tribute shows. They go to hear the familiar music . . . and to check out how well the performers deliver songs, guitar solos, drum fills on so on that are usually deeply imprinted in the memory. They also look at the costumes, equipment and ancillary aspects of the production (back projections,... > Read more

WOMAD TARANAKI CONSIDERED (2015): Stuffing yourself at the musical buffet

17 Mar 2015  |  11 min read  |  5

Driving in to New Plymouth at lunchtime on Friday under beautiful Taranaki skies, I scanned the channels and caught someone saying that this year's Womad – due to start about five hours after I pulled into the hotel carpark – was going to be a sell-out, the first since 2007. Good, I thought. It deserves to be. That's because the line-up this year was so strong.... > Read more

Jaunpuri Tarana

THE ROLLING STONES REVIEWED, NOV 22, 2014: It's all over now

23 Nov 2014  |  7 min read  |  4

So this is the end. The final concert on the Rolling Stones 14 on Fire tour. And there are no other tours scheduled. They won't go on the road again, and we can dismiss Keith Richards' comments like “you can never tell with this band”. Could they be bothered going through this all over again in five or more years? So this is the end. But what... > Read more

YES; THE RISE, DEMISE AND RISE OF PROG (2014): Close to a precipice

11 Nov 2014  |  6 min read

Among the many myths of British punk is that it wiped out prog-rock bands almost overnight. No more songs about goblins and wizards, no more 20 minute songs which were little more than arpeggios strung together, no more gatefold sleeves containing concept albums, a choir, full orchestra and the libretto. All that swept away by phlegm and bile,... > Read more

Lorde, Vector Arena, Auckland. November 1 2014

2 Nov 2014  |  6 min read  |  1

Like most people I suppose, I can remember my first pop concert. It was cool. Well, it wasn't the best you could cite to make yourself out to be a cool kid. It wasn't the Stones (that came a few months later) but little-known Australian pop star Normie Rowe playing to an almost empty Crystal Palace picture theatre in Mt Eden. He was on one of those package shows so common back... > Read more

Harry Manx, The Tuning Fork, Auckland, October 3 2014

4 Oct 2014  |  5 min read

About now Real Groovy – the secondhand and new music store on Queen St in Auckland – is celebrating its 331/3 anniversary. Has it been that long since they had their little shop at the top of Mt Eden Rd? Their original store might have been small but it was a magnet for the likes of me, mainly because one day... > Read more

The Dire Straits Experience, Aotea Centre, Auckland Oct 2 2014

4 Oct 2014  |  5 min read  |  1

Some time at the tail end of last century I spent a very funny evening backstage with Tina Turner, Neil Diamond and Rod Stewart. There were lots of laughs . . . although it did seem there was some tetchiness between Rod and Neil. Rod told me later that Neil drank too much. Neil, a plumber or something like that, was a nice guy but I could see he... > Read more

Joe Bonamassa and band; Auckland Town Hall, September 12 2014

14 Sep 2014  |  6 min read  |  1

When Tina Turner was filling stadia in the late Eighties I had the misfortune of seeing her twice in quick succession. But let's be clear, Turner was exceptional and although she delivered the same show each time you got the clear impression she was up there giving it her all. If it was a bluff, it was convincing one. The problem... > Read more

Athens to Athens (live)

Cirque du Soleil's Totem. Auckland until September 28 2014

23 Aug 2014  |  5 min read  |  2

Many years ago I went to a circus, one of those real old fashioned ones with jugglers, a tightrope walker, clowns, acrobats and so on. No animals of course – although I'm ashamed to say I would have liked to see a lion tamer or a dancing horse – and it was all very low-rent. It was one of those traveling shows under a Big Top (which was... > Read more

Indie-Hip from Totem