Musings on kiwi music

ImageNormally at this time of year I would be angrily ranting (is there a way to non-angrily rant? probably not) about how the Academy got the Oscars all wrong and how Film X got well and truly ripped off. I am not the only one surprised at the fact they actually got it RIGHT this year – evidenced by the fact that ALL my predictions were correct. Go me! But now, what to blog about? Luckily, I always have a few things up my sleeve 😉

Every year Auckland Council put on a series of free concerts and films in parks around our fair region – and every year I say ‘I really should go to one of those’. But today, I got the most out of my rates and actually went. The park in question was arguably not really a park – it was more like ‘that grassy bit out the front of Albany mall where the man made lake is’. But, it was the perfect spot – on a perfect Auckland day – for some mellow tunes. As I have blogged about before,  X Factor is my reality TV exception – and the double bill of winner Jackie Thomas and almost winner Benny Tipene was enough to get me to break my ‘avoid the Shore at all costs’ rule and drive over the bridge*.

First up though was a group of fresh faced teens, of the male persuasion, from Christchurch. No – it wasn’t Moorhouse – it was a non X-Factor related band called Nomad. Never heard of them? No, me neither. But based on their performance today, I predict you might soon. Apparently they are all 15 or 16 years old – but perform like seasoned veterans. They have a very Mumford and Sons vibe – with duelling guitars and folksy melodies. They performed almost all their own stuff – with just two exceptions, one of which was a most excellent rendition of Slice of Heaven. Apparently Sir Dave Dobbyn (ok, so he isn’t a Sir but he should be!) is producing their first single – so that was no doubt a shout out to him. They were great young performers though – and if this is the future of New Zealand music then it is a bright future indeed.

Once these guys had well and truly warmed the crowd up (I should point out that given the 3pm time slot the average age of the crowd was probably about 10 ;-)), Benny Tipene took to the stage. I always had a soft spot for Benny during X Factor – and spent a decent amount of cents on text votes for the young man from Palmerston North. One of the main reasons I liked him was he had a style and a sound all his own – and he didn’t seem to want to succumb to the manufactured pop machine. I was stoked to see today that his approach and style hasn’t changed post X Factor. He has just released an EP which is made up of a pile of folksy, mellow tunes – many of which he performed today. Sure – he did the song for the Coca Cola ad (Make You Mine) – but even that has quite a Benny feel to it, while still being poppy and upbeat. Well done Mr Tipene for sticking to your guns, I say.

The final act was X Factor winner Jackie Thomas – and I was interested to see that some of the crowd were clearly Benny fans and didn’t stick around for her. She put in a solid set of mostly covers (including ‘Skinny Love’ which made her famous in the first place) – but out of the three performances I would say she may have been the weakest. Although she has an incredibly powerful voice which was put to great use at times (like in a rendition of Florence and the Machine’s ‘Dog Days are Over’) – she was a little patchy and off key at times. She only did two original songs, excluding her ‘winner’s single’ ‘It’s Worth it’, and neither were particularly memorable. However, she may well have just been having an off day.

That said though – overall the afternoon served as yet another reminder of how the New Zealand music industry is an incredibly solid one. Sure, we have big stars like Lorde who are making us famous around the world, but we also have new talent like Nomad who will ensure that radio stations never struggle for things to play during New Zealand music month. I am also currently addicted to the David Dallas feat Ruby Frost track ‘The Wire’ – which shows that kiwi music isn’t just about pakeha boys with guitars singing about love – it’s a much more diverse beast than that. And a pretty exciting one. Yay for music in parks, and yay for Kiwi music I say.

*Many of my friends actually live on the Shore and so I actually break this rule on a regular basis, but it is still a rule… 😉 

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