The Sting/Paul Simon tour arrived in Auckland last night - a wonderful experiment that forged, in Simon's memorable phrase, "two disparate bands together in one cacophonous unit".
Vector Arena had the privilege of being the first stop on the international tour, 10 months after they tested the concept across the USA. The pair have been friends since the late 80s, when they were both living in the same apartment building in New York, but the seeds of this tour were planted at the annual Robin Hood Foundation benefit last year. They teamed up on acoustic versions of 'The Boxer' and 'Fields of Gold', and soon realised they'd hit upon something special. At the core of both of their repertoire is a focus on lyricism, and while it may be easy to label Simon a folk singer and Sting a rocker, they really both defy categorisation, easily moving from genre to genre throughout the evening.
The full 15 piece band opened the show with Sting's 'Brand New Day', moving into Simon's 'Boy in the Bubble', then back to Sting's 'Field's of Gold', with Sting and Simon sharing vocals throughout. Paul Simon has a very distinctive way of backphrasing, pushing further and further behind the beat in a way that brings new focus to lyrics you've heard time and time again, and Sting brings power and range to the equation, as well as the higher harmonies - I don't think anyone was missing Garfunkel.
Both Simon and Sting are genuine musicians - able to hold their own even against the ridiculous amount of virtuosity on display from the 15 piece band, worth the price of admission on their own. Paul Simon's drummer Jim Oblon is actually better known as a country blues guitar player - so he switched between the two song by song, making a fair fist of Steve Gadd's iconic beat from '50 Ways To Leave Your Lover' on the way. For much of the evening both drummers were playing at once, and despite his ability Oblon was certainly deferential to his band mate - you'd have to be, Vinnie Colaiuta is renowned as one of the greatest drummers of all time, and for good reason. Mark Stewart stole the spotlight several times, not just for his fantastic mutton chops, but by seemingly playing a different instrument on every tune, moving ably between guitar, cello, baritone sax, and even penny whistle. I also have to mention backing singer Jo Lawry - now famous for not being famous thanks to the documentary "12 Feet From Stardom" - who blew the doors off with 'Desert Rose' and 'Hounds of Winter'.
Sting closed his Broadway show "The Last Ship" on Saturday - he was both composer and male lead - and this can't have given them much time to prepare for the show. This led to a few charming moments - Simon heckled Sting for not coming back on, before Sting reminded him he was supposed to have left first. Simon took it on the chin, admitting he had been wrong once before in the 80s... Sting also had a few moments of lyric amnesia in their encore of 'When Will I Be Loved' by the Everly Brothers, but they handled it with such good humour it didn't matter.
I was a little concerned by the sound at the start of the show - from where we were, in the left hand tiered seating, the band were overwhelming the vocals at times. Things improved progressively throughout the performance, and by the end the sound was full and well balanced - it just took them a few numbers to find that sweet point. The video work was not so good, and showed a definite lack of rehearsal - missing one of the climactic moments of the night, Bakithi Kumalo's forward/backward slap bass solo from 'You Can Call Me Al' in favour of showing some slightly bored looking audience members in the front row!
Those minor quibbles aside, it was a spectacular show. Both artists have been criticised for being pretentious over the years, but it certainly wasn't on display tonight - their obvious respect for each other showed throughout, and they gave genuine, down to earth performances. At a notch over three hours, it was really two concerts worth of music, touching on all of their most memorable hits - and it didn't drag for a second.
They're performing tonight in New Plymouth at the Bowl of Brooklands - and I have to say, I'm tempted to drive down and watch it again.
The Soundsplash Festival is returning to Raglan in January 2018. Local reggae favourites Katchafire are returning to feature on the bill. We sent a few questions over to lead vocalist Logan Bell ahead of the festival.
Following 2015’s Kitty, Daisy & Lewis'The Third', the sibling trio are back stronger than ever, harnessing their ability to create pop-infused soul, blues, rock n roll and a large mix of genres to perfection, in the shape of their fourth studio album, Superscope.
Kylie Price has just released her new album Bones. Last week she appeared on theNZ Entertainment Podcast, where she sang a new song I Dont Want To Go off the album while talking shop about her dream gig to play with Ed Sheeran and her Philipino roots.
Last week I caught up withPeter Hook ahead of returning down under for Australasian leg of the Joy Division and New Order Substance tour. We had a great chat about the spirit of punk, what it takes to write a book and why shows like the X-factor are so unhealthy…
Long established as one of New Zealand’s finest acts, South Pacific reggae-soul legends, The Black Seeds are set to tour the country in September, following the release of their long awaited 6th studio album Fabric, (out today - Friday September 8th).
Jacqueline Nalpant is a Booking Agent for the Paradigm Talent Agency, and is heading to New Zealand early next month where she'll be one of the speakers for the Going Global Music Summit (Friday 1st & Saturday 2nd September at Roundhead Studios, Auckland).
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Since forming in 1998, the Antwerp, Belgium based trio Triggerfinger have long become a mainstay on the rock scene, building a solid reputation across Europe, the US, Canada and beyond, as one of the hardest-driving and sharpest dressing bands around.
Popular metalcore group Northlane are on their way to New Zealand. The Sydney band are touring North America taking in countries like Chile and Mexico as they head our way down-under next month to play Wellington’s San Fran then Auckland at the iconic Kings Arms.
Returning to New Zealand for the first time in three years, Australian metalcore band In Hearts Wake are on their way to our shores next month for a quick run of shows supporting their label cohorts Northlane.
Courtney Marie Andrews has landed in New Zealand, and set to play two concerts this week with Joe Pug - tonight at San Fran in Wellington (Wed July 19) and tomorrow night at The Tuning Fork in Auckland (Thu July 20).
Auckland two-piece Skinny Hobos, Alex Elvis and Texas Holdom, are heading on a 5 date New Zealand tour with headliners Decades, Bakers Eddy and Dead Favours. Kicking off tonight in Hamilton (July 14), the tour will also take them to Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and finishes up in Dunedin.
Have you ever considered sharing your most personal experiences with the entire world? Well come this Friday 14th July, that’s what Emma Cameron, the rocking front-woman of kiwi band Decades is about to do, when they release their long-awaited full length debut album, The Truth And Other People, so we sat down with the cheerful front woman to discover just what truth this album reveals..
Whilst Sonny Landreth is a well known slide-guitar master, zydeco enthusiast and phenomenal blues legend, what you may not know about him, is that he is one of the nicest gentlemen in the entire universe.
He was always the boy next door type energy, that type of person you just always wanted to be around. From day one, Shay Taylor has always been one to break the mold and live life in such a vibrant and contagious manner, that no matter who he spoke to, they walked away feeling great!
One month on from the release of their third album [Wade Waist Deep], American rock band Thomas Wynn & The Believers are back on the road, breaking beyond the southern rock scene with complex, pulsing rhythms and breathtaking harmonies.
Due to significant weekend rainfall, and the forecast of more rain over the next 72 hours, Coffs Harbour City Council, Frontier Touring, John Logan Entertainment and Midnight Oil management have met and reviewed the site for Midnight Oil’s show on Thursday 19 October.
After their 2012 Mercury Prize-nominated debut and 2015’s Top 20 follow-up Born Under Saturn, musical adventurers Django Django are back for 2017, exploring new sounds with their brand new album Marble Skies
After stunning, sold-out concerts across the US, legendary Led Zep drummer Bonzo's greatest legacy - his son Jason - brings his critically acclaimed concert, Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience, to New Zealand for just two performances.
Playing their breakthrough debut self-titled album in its entirety, pop rock sensations We The Kings will return to New Zealand and Australia to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of their breakthrough self-titled debut album.
Instrumentals, imagined soundtracks and cut and paste experimentation sets a bracing, perception-shattering course for Who Built The Moon? - the keenly anticipated, WORLD TOUR-triggering third album from Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds.