I probably saw fewer gigs – and reviewed fewer gigs – in 2019 than any other year. That’s kinda nice. I also paid for a few shows too; more than other years. That’s also nice – liberating…although I’m so conditioned to writing a review to process the show that I still turn out the reviews for free even after I’ve paid to see the gig. Not a complaint. That’s just how I’ve wired myself. Here below are the shows (good, bad and not many that were ugly as such) of 2019. Click on the links to be taken to the full review.
Nick Cave suck-up fest with lame questions and same-same solo performances – it seemed like a good idea when it was announced. But no. Cave was asked fucking dumb questions and it went on forever and the musical performances lacked the thing that makes Cave (sometimes) good: The Bad Seeds. I ended up on RNZ talking about it as a result of this review.
The Laneway see-and-be-seen-scene with reviewers mostly mentioning the food and some good (and bad) music in the background – I liked it. Kinda. I liked being there for at least some of it, or even most of it. Then it got very boring very quickly. I had no real skin in this game, no horse in this race but I made a day of it – first time for me at Laneway in a decade. And I turned in a review. And I forgot to mention the food. Which most other reviewers seemed more taken with than the music.
Phil Collins at the Mission in Hawke’s Bay on Waitangi Day – it was bloody good. Loads of people who would never have ever gone told me it must have been shit. It wasn’t. It was bloody good.
Seeing Rufus Wainwright for the third time and he really is an amazing singer – I realised I don’t think much of many of Wainwright’s song. And that it doesn’t matter at all when he is in full flight. That gorgeous voice.
Rodger Fox plays the Charlie Parker w/ Strings album with American saxophonist Dick Oatts – amazing show. Really good. Great source material and a lovely tribute to it.
Norah Jones almost blows me away and her audience fucking sucks – on a Facebook-whim I bought a third-party ticket and got to the show. I’d seen Norah twice several years ago and she was boring live. But I was newly enthused about seeing her and so I got along to it. Pleased I did. But her fairweather-fans audience sucks. Still. And comedian Melanie Bracewell was an odd choice and a very disappointing opening act.
Barry Saunders and Delaney Davidson lead a killer band to create a magical show – they made a good album together and then toured it and put on some very good gigs. I loved this. They brought out the best in each other and had a killer-good rhythm section.
Virtuoso performance poetry by Luke Wright – the British poet was as phenomenal as all his press-quotes say. And then some.
The living legend Dr Jane Goodall is interviewed live on stage – it was wonderful just to be in the room with someone like this, to hear them speak, to respect the passion, commitment, energy and dedication. But LOOP do fucking weird shows, a pointless set by TrinityRoots did nothing but make the evening L-O-N-G!
I finally got to see the Brodsky Quartet – I finally got to see the Brodsky Quartet!
Alicia Olatuja was rather dull at the Jazz Festival – I missed most of the jazz festival this year and I wish I had missed this. Instead one of the shows I thought would be great was painfully dull.
Simon O’Neill and Rodger Fox combine opera and jazz and it goddamn works, yo! – I missed most of the jazz festival this year and I nearly missed this. I was glad I didn’t. Instead, one of the show I thought might be weird, silly or just not work was utterly transcendent. A nice surprise.
Hey-hey they’re (what’s left of) the Monkees and they can almost still monkee-around – look, it was a hot fucking mess, but I found plenty about it to love. Really glad I got to see it. Whatever it actually was!
No gigs in July for me – and yes I missed what was bound to be the show of the year – WARPAINT – one of my favourite-favourite bands of recent years. BUT I was on holiday in Maui, Hawaii – I did have a fucking good time, including going to Mick Fleetwood’s restaurant. So I feel like this was a mighty-good trade.
STROMA puts on another great show and a hundred or so people attend instead of the thousands they deserve – another stacked bill of the finest contemporary classical/art composers in New Zealand. Another ho-hum audience.
The surprisingly great local tribute to Neil Young’s Live Rust tour – I didn’t expect this to be as vital as it was, but still a part of me is sad that what it takes to get big audiences to a local show is drawing a long bow to connect them to a famous international superstar and turn our hardworking musicians into a covers-band.
Finnwood Mac really works! – I travelled to Auckland to see Fleetwood Mac with Neil Finn and I’m glad I did. It was a wonderful show.
The Blackbird Ensemble tackles the works of Bjork admirably – someone should fire that useless cunt Mara TK. Someone should promote Anna Coddington. She was wonderful. Good gig – even if it’s ultimately impossible to ‘cover’ Bjork. A very strong effort here by all but one.
Tami Neilson invites her little bro Jay over to basically do their own version of a Prairie Home Companion as live podcast – and yes it was brilliant. Two dynamic, funny, brilliant performers sharing great songs (covers and originals) and family stories.
Joan As Police Woman plays a blinder and names me and thanks me from the stage – TWICE! – Katy noted that I got the least applause of all the people she thanked. And the second time the audience seemed thoroughly disappointed that Joan didn’t seem to think I was a cunt.
Steve Gunn plays a strange but mostly wonderful solo acoustic set – he seemed distracted, he never quite fired. But it was lovely and strong enough.
The Bootleg Beatles came back and I got to take my 8-year-old Beatles-obsessed son – it was a treat to take Oscar to this. He loved it. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!
Merry Christmas to you and yours. I didn’t see any shows in December. And that’s okay. I’ll be playing some records at the San Fran on December 28. I’m already looking forward to loads of things in 2020 – and have purchased tickets to see Randy Newman in February and many things across Feb and March at the NZ Festival.