It was all pork-pie hats, skin-heads and braces as we stepped out once again with the Fred Perry-donned rudeboys and girls of Auckland for the third time in less than a year. There were some familiar faces here. It has almost become a musical pilgrimage and an opportunity to catch up with old friends. This time round we were at Auckland's King's Arms and if the excitable carpark chatter was anything to go by, this one would be a cracker.
Growing up in the UK, my first real memory of Bad Manners was seeing them perform the Can Can on Top Of The Pops back in 1981. I still have visions of front-man Douglas Trendle (aka Buster Bloodvessel) stomping, less than gracefully, around on the stage in bloomers and bovver-boots. But at that time the band was already five years in the making. Never ones to take things too seriously, they grabbed the 80s ska revival period by the proverbial, and made sure they had fun in the process.
Harsher critics might say that no one else took them seriously either, but with five albums between 1980-85 they certainly made their mark. Though never signed to 2-Tone themselves, Bad Manners, alongside ska-compatriots The Selecter, Madness and The Specials became the soundtrack of our youth.
No strangers to our shores, Bad Manners are still firing some 30 years on. Although no longer in their original form, they retain that same essence of lunacy that made them so popular back in their prime. By all accounts they had smashed it in Wellington the night before, so we were looking forward to getting lively.
The night started well, as the AceTones set the pace perfectly with their potent brew of Trojan-infused offerings. I last saw them perform live this time last year supporting The English Beat, but they have raised the bar since then. The amazing Heather Bolton on keys was - as always - a true star, alongside Josh and his fellow 'Brass-tifarians' who filled the space from the get-go; but it was the Mighty Jabsco (aka Darren Bowyer-Warner) on toasting duties who really lifted things to a higher level. He added a layer of transcendence to proceedings and if they were great before, the AceTones are dynamite now. My only regret was that they were not on for longer.
With the floor already shuffling and the space filling nicely, the King's Arms was proving the perfect choice for a gig of this nature. Its intimate pub atmosphere and low ceilings harked back to the revival genre's 80s roots. Ironically, even the six-deep 20-minute wait for drinks only added to the nostalgia.
DJ Lise kept things moving between acts, before Nightgaunts took to the stage. This young six-piece from Auckland lifted the pace with their rappy, fun-punk 'skate-ska'. Musically they are hugely talented, but I never really got into the whole 90s period of this genre and lead-singer Paul's helium vocal effects didn't quite sit tonally with the evening's proceedings. There was something rather grating about his squeaking "rudeboy!" every two minutes like some deranged cartoon character; however, their saving grace was that they dropped a dutifully skanking version of One Step Beyond which got things back on track, if only for a short time. It was an interesting choice of support act here which didn't quite gel for me, but they got a good reception from the already heaving dancefloor. These guys are about to embark on a tour of the US and I wish them every success.
One more quick set from Lise and the signature traditional chant of the Bad Manners' fanbase, "You fat bastard!" had already begun by the time they hit the stage. Sporting a red bomber jacket and leopard-print high-tops, Buster was looking better than ever and was clearly relishing the reception. "I may not be as fat as I used to be," he proclaimed with his trademark grin, "but I'll always be a bastard!"
Flanked by the powerhouse of a brass section that is Dave 'Essex' Welton, Colin Graham and Adrian Cox on one sideand guitarist Tom Massey and bassman Lee Thompson on the other, there wasn't much room to move up there - but that certainly didn't stop them from kicking straight into things.
For the next 90 minutes we were treated to the full Bad Manners experience, with hits across the board including a couple from their 1989 Return Of The Ugly offering, This Is Ska and Sally Brown.
But it was the classics that got the best response; the crowd really found its voice for Lorraine and Skinhead Love Affair, and got into full action mode for a blistering version of Feel Like Jumping. Buster dedicated Special Brew to all the drinkers in the room and even their cover of Woolly Bully from the 1980 album Ska'n'B got a mention, much to the delight of those who remembered it first time around.
As things progressed, it was clear that the last three decades had started to take a toll on Buster's voice, and he almost 'hinted' the lyrics through some tunes, allowing the pogo-ing crowd to fill in the blanks. Yet the band was red-hot and in my opinion performing better than they have ever been. Hearing the instrumental stormer Echo 4-2 live certainly was one of the key moments of the night and Justin Dodsworth's solo on keys during Inner London Violence was simply flawless.
They made it look easy, and the ongoing antics and OTT dance routines from all on stage - especially during a suitably bad-mannered rendition of Frankie Vallis' Can't Take My Eyes Off You - certainly kept the energy levels at maximum.
So what if their repertoire isn't as varied as others from that period or if Buster's voice isn't quite what it used to be? Who's going to be holding that against them? I heard no complaints. If after 30 years you're still doing what you love, and with the same passion and fervour that Buster displayed onstage, then hold on to what you've got. His blunt persona and undoubted charisma should be the envy of many an artist in today's throwaway musical milieu. I guess that's the reason he is flanked by such talented musicians year after year.
An amazing night was topped off in true style with ska-anthem Lip Up Fatty and of course the Can Can, this time minus the bloomers, but still with the same energy and brazen rudeboy attitude that it possessed all those years ago.
"As long as you guys are here, we'll keep coming back," Buster said with a smile. We might just hold you to that one, mate.
One of our writers sat down with Amy Mansfield, writer of I Didn’t Invite You Hear To Lecture Me, ahead of the Basement shows. Most students throw out their study notes, but not Amy. She has kept hold of them for the past 20 years--vertibiam quotes from her lectures that are too good to ever get rid of. The play was shown throughout the Auckland Fringe Week 2018, and even in some personal living rooms, the vibe is very independent and witty.
It was a cold bleary eyed Saturday night as the clock struck midnight, and counted towards 1am… the time set forth to conjure Richard Shaw, guitarist for legendary UK black metal act Cradle of Filth. We talked ahead of their sold out, first ever performance here in New Zealand.
NZ is about to get OBESSED, with the newest in kiwi music. Local Tauranga sweetheart, Amelia McNabb comes to us fiercely, independently, and with more fire in her lungs than I've heard from any kiwi artist in while. THIS is what we’ve been waiting for.
Elgusto, one part of the innovative electronic/dance music duo, Hermitude, sat down with one of our interviewers this past week; chatting about their loaded schedule, the bands ethos, how they communicate an instrumental show, and their creative collaborations.
Catching up with friends who are musicians at their gigs is always an odd, awkward, rushed affair between sets, pack-down, or a series of inaudible shouts as another band plays. So with the release of the new Seas of Conflict single Monachopsis, I thought it was time I simply scheduled time for a chat, not only once but twice--due to technical issues--with guitarist Declan Storrie.
I recently ventured back to my old festival haunting grounds - or at least the successor thereof. It was a hot Sunday afternoon and after juggling band members between their Festival One main stage duties and their prior commitments off-site, I managed to sit down with the guys and gal from Amanaki - one of the few hardcore-metal acts to perform at the mostly radio-friendly festival.
The Red Jumpsuit Apparatus are gracing our shores on the 28th of November at Galatos. After a 4-year hiatus, they have burst back onto the scene and headed straight for the spot they are most familiar with, number 1 on the Billboard Christian Rock Charts.
Breakups are never easy - whether it's a romantic tryst, a teenage crush, or with a young Mark and his favourite band Dream Theater, that dark moment when founding keyboardist Kevin Moore left the group in 1994.
There's no denying that at my core, I'm a lover of progressive music - whether that means I love "prog" music or not is a question for another day, and is a topic which I touched on whilst talking to Steven Wilson the other week regarding the upcoming To The Bone show at Auckland's Bruce Mason Centre.
Auckland-based quartet Openside have added an extra date to their first, all-ages, nationwide tour. The group headlines The Seamless Tour will now perform a final show in Tauranga on July 20th featuring special guests DUNES .
Consisting of drummer/vocalist Cat Leahy and guitarist/vocalist Leisha Jungalwalla, This Way Northwill be a part of a very special night in Auckland called ‘Sass the Patriarchy’ an event they have been running in Australia.
As the days and nights get colder, we need something more to laugh about than the unpredictability of Auckland weather and lucky for us, The New Zealand International Comedy Festivalreturns (kicking off this Thursday 26 April).
I Am Giant’s have recently released their third and final album ‘Life in Captivity’. Featuring the singles ‘Dead Flower’, ‘Playing With Fire’ and ‘Don’t Look Back’, the band are currently touring New Zealand; their final tour and last hurrah in NZ.
Featuring Future of the Left members Andrew “Falco” Falkous and Jack Egglestone, with the addition of Damien Sayell from the St Pierre Snake Invasion, the Cardiff outfit will be playing venues in Wellington and Auckland this January.
Andrew Fagan returns with a satirical take on today’s social media preoccupied society. Being an amateur social anthropologist, it is a topic close to his heart. Listen to new track On Channel Me below, off Fagan’s forthcoming solo album Act Normal, due for release in October on Southbound.
Brisbane’s own indie rock royalty, The Grates, have been invited along for the ride, and will treat their hometown crowd to classics from their extensive and impressive catalogue of tunes including 19-20-20 and Turn Me On.
Pixies, one of the most influential alternative rock bands of all time, have announced a second show for Brisbane fans due to overwhelming demand. Following on from Melbourne’s second show announced on Friday (on sale 12pm today!), Brisbane fans have been just as eager to see catch the influential music pioneers, selling out the Fortitude Music Hall date on March 13. A second show has been added at the same venue on Thursday March 12 as part of their mammoth world tour, Come On Pilgrim… It’s Surfer Rosa.
The Ugly Kings, featuring Devil Electric guitarist, Christos Athanasias, are four powerhouse blues rockers drawing influence from an eclectic and dynamic musical background. They offer a powerful injection of energy and emotion to the modern rock scene, formulating what can only be described as power blues. They have released a new music video for Black Widow, featuring an award winning burlesque dancer Ferri Maya. Plus announced a live show this weekend!
Fame and fortune on the Kiwi music scene are a step closer for the top 10 acts just announced in Smokefreerockquest, New Zealand’s biggest live, nationwide all original music event for high school students.
Pluto’s nascent trajectory has covered the spectrum of the New Zealand musical stratosphere, bursting brightly onto the scene in 2001 just to have their star seemingly burn out just as abruptly in 2009. It would have been a suitably intriguing end to befall one of the finest, most exciting and alluring bands New Zealand has ever produced.
Exhilarating and high energy New Zealand rock band, Written By Wolves, have just released their killer new track, Tell Me What You’re Running From? This is the first single from the band’s upcoming new album, set for release later this year.
Australia’s foremost authority on progressive rock, Caligula’s Horse, are just weeks away from kicking off their Let It Grow tour which will celebrate their cult classic The Tide, The Thief & River's End and breakout progressive masterpiece Bloom by playing them back to back!
Within the four walls of The Fortitude Music Hall, lies The Outpost. Brisbane’s newest 300 capacity multipurpose venue that will feature a diverse program of artists, an impressive drinks menu featuring a cocktail list curated by the talented team at Proof & Company.
After spending the past year pulverizing the world with their stupefying live performances, Tropical Fuck Storm return home to tour their new album Braindrops and put the Antipodean public to the sword! Braindrops, the follow up to 2018's epic odyssey, A Laughing Death In Meatspace, will be released on Flightless Records in August
It’s been 20 years since The Flaming Lips released the one-of-a-kind aural hallucination that is The Soft Bulletin. To celebrate the anniversary of its release, The Flaming Lips will play a special show at Brisbane’s Fortitude Music Hall.
15-time Grammy Award-winning singer, songwriter, and producer Alicia Keys makes her musical return with the powerful track and visuals for “Show Me Love,” featuring Grammy Award winning singer, songwriter and producer, Miguel via RCA Records.
Backstreet’s back, alright! Get your group together, because the biggest selling Boy Band of all time (100 million albums), the BACKSTREET BOYS are heading back to New Zealand in 2020 for a show at Auckland’s Spark Arena on Saturday, May 16.
Platinum-certified independent singer, songwriter, producer, and pop visionary Lauv has released new single 'fuck, I'm lonely' with Anne-Marie today. The track will be featured on Lauv’s forthcoming debut album titled ~how i'm feeling
Frontier Touring and Roundhouse Entertainment are excited to announce that Norwegian pop icons a-ha are returning to Australia for the first time in 34 years, before heading to New Zealand for the very first time! They’ll be joined by very special guest Rick Astley at all February & March 2020 shows, taking in Sydney, Melbourne, and Christchurch, as well as a day on the green events in Australia and New Zealand.
Hitting a massive nine centres on his regional tour this September, Stan will take the stage to perform songs from his impressive catalogue plus his brand new pop smash single Give (co-written by Matiu Walters of SIX60) for his beloved fans. The Springboard tour will also boast three of NZ’s most up-and-coming new artists – Lepani, Niko Walters and Jordan Gavet.
TEG DAINTY and THE MISSION ESTATE WINERY CONCERT announced today that global superstar Michael Bublé will return in February 2020! Accompanied by a 36-piece orchestra and ready to to thrill his New Zealand fans for one night only; this will be Michael Bublé’s only show in New Zealand.
Elton John will perform a third and final show at Auckland’s Mt Smart Stadium, to satisfy New Zealand’s insatiable demand. It has also been announced that, due to a scheduling conflict, three of Elton’s sold out New Zealand concerts have been delayed by one week. Rescheduled dates affect the second show at Mission Estate Winery, and the first two Mt Smart Stadium shows in Auckland.
Vocal prodigy RUEL is returning to New Zealand for one show in Auckland at the Bruce Mason Centre in May. Counting Elton John and Khalid among his fans, RUEL is taking the globe by storm, smashing show records, and he’s only 16 years old.
Exactly six years to the day since the release of Vance Joy’s debut EP God Loves You When You’re Dancing, Liberation Records are pleased to reveal an extremely limited run of the EP have been pressed on vinyl for the first time ever for release on Friday 26 April. Vance Joy has also announced he will bring his Ukuleles For Kids program to Australia in a new partnership with Ronald McDonald House Charities Australia. Launched in the USA last year the program delivers ukuleles and how-to video tutorials lead by Vance Joy to children’s hospitals.
LA two-piece Moby Rich have announced two headline shows on their debut Australian tour this May. With their latest single Blink bringing further attention to the duo, this Australian tour is the perfect opportunity to catch two indie stars on the rise. Support on the tour comes from yergurl in Melbourne, whose lo-fi beats and unique pop style made her a Triple J Unearthed favourite. Sydney support will be from Hoodlem, a streaming sensation with her mix of experimental soul and future R&B.
Darren Middleton (POWDERFINGER), Mark Wilson (JET), Davey Lane (YOU AM I) and Kram (SPIDERBAIT) have joined forces to become ARC, one of the most collectively celebrated and successful supergroups in Australia’s rock history will be performing Abbey Road live, commemorating 50 years of existence.
Abbey Road, The Beatles' swansong and their crowning achievement as a recording group - is a stately, majestic, playful yet fiercely rocking masterpiece of pop music, regarded as one of the greatest records of all time.
TEG Dainty and Nice Events are excited to announce that Emmy-nominated television personality, podcaster and hairstylist to the stars, Jonathan Van Ness, will bring his Road to Beijing world tour to New Zealand
Colin Mochrie, Brad Sherwood and Greg Proops the popular stars of the Emmy nominated Whose Line Is It Anyway? have teamed up to present an evening of extraordinary improvisational comedy for one show only at the Bruce Mason Centre in Auckland.
In a New Zealand first, five of the stars of Twin Peaks, Sheryl Lee, Kimmy Robertson, Michael Horse, Al Strobel, Dana Ashbrook and the Executive Producer of Twin Peaks: A Limited Event Series, Sabrina S. Sutherland, will visit Auckland and Christchurch for an exclusive and unique CONVERSATION WITH THE STARS evening.
Singer Elaine Paige has announced an 8-date series of concerts from October 10 to October 25 2018, which will see her perform songs from her illustrious career along side an array of her favourite tracks by contemporary songwriters.