The Winery Tour 2017

By Wal Reid

Artists: Brooke Fraser, Bic Runga & Benny Tipene

Date / Venue: Sunday February 19th, 2017 - Villa Maria Winery, Auckland

I couldn’t help but think if Brooke Fraser had a word with the ‘man upstairs’ as the day’s fickle weather gave way to a magnificent hot , sunny backdrop to this year’s 10th Anniversary Winery Tour.

The unpredictable outburst not seen since MP Marian Hobbs’s famous spoonerism calling Bic Runga, “Ric Bunga” transformed into a lovely evening, a celebration as people on blankets supped and wined (it’s a winery after all) while dancers frolicked to the live music on display, it reminded me of the opening sequence of the Teletubbies.

Benny Tipene, a seasoned veteran of the Winery Tour cajoled the crowd, most of them happy to see the sun as he entertained with his pop sensibility including hits Lanterns, Walking on Water & his 2014 hit song Make You Mine, eventually he succumbed to the sweltering sun as he took a break in between guitar changes.

As the svelte figure of Bic appeared so did the crowd, it was a real pleasure hearing this lady sing live for the first time.  I was totally enthralled, hits like Drive & Sway passionately belted out as if caught in the ‘pleasure-dome’ not wanting it to finish.

She was all style & grace as partner Kody Nielson went ape-shit on drums while bassist Michael Logie on bass laid down the groove foundation. No sign of a Mint Chicks song, however they did pull a stellar (no pun intended) version of “doomed romantic” Nick Drake’s Things Behind The Sun – stunning.

The night carried on, as the cool Auckland air made its way into the winery beckoning Brooke Fraser & co onto the stage.  Commenting on the weather she rarely left her microphone, her songs rang into the night sky as the crowd rallied around in support, her newish baby bump proudly on display.

“I’m always surprised at how well this song has done” as she played Albertine, then a stirring rendition of Simon & Garfunkel’s Sound of Silence with guitarist Tom Healy on vocals was the nights highlight as she commented, “This is a song I wrote when I was eighteen, a couple of years ago,” she joked, ending with Arithmetic.

All three are talented artists in their own right; they have their own brand of personality watermarked on their music.  A musical ‘smorgasbord’ that if you had a chance to pull together would more or less be the band you’d have singing Crowded House’s Better Be Home Soon as finale – oh wait, that did happen.