to New Plymouth
to see R.E.M.
It rained the whole way
and we had no accommodation
booked. We thought we’d just
find something when we got there.
But everyone else had a similar
plan. Or had already planned.
So we drove around the town trying
to work out what to do – suddenly
our backup-backup plans of sleeping
in the car, or driving all the way back
straight after the show didn’t seem
We stopped in at a Bed and Breakfast
a few kms out of town, one last hope.
The woman was welcoming, but told
us she was full – she made us a cup of tea
and started ringing around a few places for
No luck – but after a brief chat she decided they
would probably have room for us after all since
a couple from Auckland hadn’t confirmed their
With a taste of relief we hit the town for a bit,
got a feed, started to feel like we wanted to see
And just as well because the gig was good. Bright
Eyes played a blinder of an opening set and the best
was yet to come in the form of a near-greatest hits set
from one of the best and most consistent bands of the last
It was full stadium anthem energies and all the songs you
would want at that time. A victory lap of sorts. Their farewell
to the world.
It rained for most of it and that only served to heighten the
mood. People leaping in the duck-pond, the bass-player spontaneously
singing CCR’s Have You Ever Seen The Rain and Michael Stipe telling
us he doesn’t sing Nightswimming so often but that it had to be
done on this night. And he did. And it was so good.
We were soaked – so was anyone there, plastic poncho or not. And it was cold.
Even though it was March. So we were looking forward to getting
to our bed for the night – and how lucky we had been to finally
A quick drive back to the place and we’re greeted at the door, even after
11pm by the homeowner in her nightie – she tells us there was a slight
issue and the Aucklanders turned up pissed about an hour before the gig and
so our bags were out and we had a new room for the night, our gear was there
to meet us.
We walked into the room and I was so tired my eyes were closed before my
head hit the pillow. I only noticed the bed was lumpy when I woke far too early
unsure of my surroundings and worried I was intruding.
What was kicking in, I think, was Katy’s sleepless night and how she’d tried
to warn me before I hit that hay so hard that we were in the master bedroom.
That the elderly couple that owned the place had stayed up to let us in
because they had given us their bedroom and they were going to sleep
on mattresses in the lounge.
It wasn’t that the story was boring – it was just that I needed to sleep from
the drive and the wind and the rain and the gig – and so, I guess I was sorry
for snoring, but I wasn’t sorry for taking the bed. It was given to us. And we
paid for the loan.
But I did try to sneak our gear to car and to make an escape early – to avoid
This resulted in me being stopped in the driveway, reminded that there was a
breakfast we’d paid for – and I quickly said that I was just turning the car around
so we could get away when we did and that, otherwise, I
was looking forward to the feed.
The breakfast was lumpier than the bed.
And the conversation was barely there at all.
But the couple was a couple of hundred bucks better off – a win/win I would
say and the concert was not only brilliant. It was memorable.