The Spines cut their teeth at playing to big crowds at the Student Union Hall up at Victoria University in the eighties. We played our first ever gig there and went on to do some our most memorable – every line up we had in that first decade had at least one major gig there.
We were a band that could do these gigs – we weren’t mired in downtown punk or cover style funk. I had songs that were original and challenging and a band of top class musicians that could cope with seething drunken student crowds.
For the Hunters and Collectors support it was Wendy on bass, Tim on drums and Neill on sax and percussion – we had recorded Punch/Your Body Stays for Ripper Records by then and had a big early Roxy Music meets XTC meets Talking Heads set of songs and sound.
Tim was a very powerful drummer and so tight and song focused (quite like Paul Thompson actually) and it was one of his last gigs with us.
Wendy had become my partner in the guts of the band. Her knowledge of music, her ear and timing added to the fact that she was stunningly gorgeous and down to earth.
Helen Hamilton, who I was in love with at the time, was right up front that night and I really wanted to impress her. She was a hairdresser and they ruled Wellington then.
I always have a couple of pedals – analogue delay and chorus in those days. This punk up the front was affronted by this and started pouring his beer all over them. I was mid song and I gave him a kick without even thinking. The pedals still worked but the settings had all gone wobbly. Tim counted in what I thought was Gillian, Wendy thought it was Punch and Tim thought it was Sideways and it all went pear-shaped with different time signatures for a minute. When we finally all launched into the same song it was fine.
Hunters and Collectors were great and we went on to a party with them afterwards somewhere in Newtown – acoustic guitars and lots of fun.
One thing that sticks in my mind about the night…
After our set I went to the toilets and I overheard this conversation –
“That guy in the Spines – I don’t reckon he’s that good a guitarist”.
The Ghost of Electricity –War Stories by Jon McLeary is a new initiative at Off The
Tracks, a series of stories and reflections from painter, writer and musician Jon McLeary