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Sunday, May 23, 2021

Opposite Sex - Space Academy - Christchurch - 22 May 2021


Gig time again, with Opposite Sex playing again, after I had seen them for the first time only a couple of months earlier in the year. Supporting their new (and maybe last album) album, "High Drama", which maybe their best to date, and being their third, but with the departure of their original drummer, the three of them are now operating under the guise of Wet Specimen and have even released their first album on Bandcamp. So it may well also be a farewell gig, I guess we'll see. 

So I was slightly confused when Lucy Hunter introduces Wet Specimen as the same band but with a different name, although it becomes slightly clearer after she explains the drummer situation. Still, to my ears in the live situation, the do not sound at all much far removed from Opposite Sex, with Reg doing similar guitar pyrotechnics as he does in Opposite Sex but with different songs. So is it Opposite Sex playing different songs for this set or Wet Specimen playing Opposite Sex songs in the later set this night, perhaps the later. Still, it was a good set and the mix sounded excellent..

After their set, I found friend Craig, who had arrived half way into their set and we chatted between bands before heading forward towards the stage for the next band Night Lunch. 

We both had seen Night Lunch before when they came up from Dunedin to support Earth Tongue in late 2019 and we were both impressed with what we had seen that night. A duo of two Liam's being, Hoffman on drums and Dorf on amplified Diddly Bow. They make an excellent dark industrial doomy sound with a lot of force but irreverent humour and it is impressive the sounds Dorf from his two string Diddly. The small crowd was right into their set and again the sound mix was excellent.

And Finally, Opposite Sex(or is it Wet Specimen?) take the stage and take us through a great set across their entire back cataloge , including the songs that first introduced me to their music and then progressed on to the new tracks, especially, what I think are the three best tracks from the new record, finishing their great set with the Epic "Dick On A Throne, which I managed to capture quite well on video(see Below). A great live band and Reg Norris really gets some chaotic sounds from the shredding he does with his guitar over Lucy's wonderful bass lines. Perhaps my second favourite Dunedin band behind Death And The Maiden. 

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Beastwars - Blue Smoke - Christchurch - 15th May 2021



The mighty Beastwars are touring again, this time as an anniversary celebration of the decade since their first album was released and also celebrating the reissue of aforementioned album.  I saw them last trip in 2019 in support of their fourth and possibly best album and I thought I needed to see them again particularly to get mu hands on a copy of the reissued album but another incentive was the support bands, Earth Tongue and especially Saint Satori.

I was lucky to get tickets as I left it quite late but still I managed just a couple of weeks out from the gig to secure myself one. Saint Satori, a local Christchurch band, had put out their first album last year I think it was and although completely unknown to me at the time, it was recommended by the owner of my local record emporium and one of his staff was the bass player. Turned out it was an inspired recommendation and so I was pretty keen to finally catch them live. A great start to the night.

They were first up just past 9pm to a nearly full house as the crowd was still straggling into the venue. Most of the songs I recognised now of course, after having their record for a time and I was really impressed with the singer as I thought I would judging from the record. Anthea has a powerful voice and can hold some rather long notes and can really belt it out, she is the highlight of the band. Their gothic doomy heavy rock was great and I enjoyed their set. A great start to the night.

Wandered to the back of the venue in the break between bands and found a friend who I new was coming along and we chatted a while until Earth Tongue started up. Stayed at the back of the venue for Earth Tongue's set and I didn't enjoy them as much as the last time I saw them in a smaller venue with a much smaller audience. A duo of drums and guitar and Gussie Larkin gets a LOT of sound out of that guitar as they thunder through several tracks I know from their EP that I have. Really grungy sound and quite far removed from the great Indie Pop that Gussie also fronts called  Mermaidens. In Earth Tongue she gets to release her inner bogan.

Headed  nearer front and center for the start of Beastwars set when they finally hit the stage and managed to stay there for about four or five songs of their thunderous doomy sludgy  metal until I'd had enough of being pushed around by all the bodies jammed so tightly together as happens nearer the stage, after which I headed back and found my friend nearer the center of the venue. They played most of the stuff from their first record of course so I was not actually familiar with what they were playing. Volume was loud but not over distorted, and it was all full on as you'd expect. Towards the end of the set they started playing some stuff off their last record and as I knew this stuff better I enjoyed the last four songs of the evening the most and they are powerful riff monsters. It was interesting they finished their set and although the audience was into it, they weren't overly ecstatic and they did not demand an encore which surprised me.  

I did not make any videos but this one from another gig gives an idea what was witnessed.

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Les Baxters Album Release show - Space Academy - Christchurch - 14 May 2021


Been a while since I went out to see some live music but I thought It would be good to go check out Les Baxters again for the release party of their eponymous debut LP and probably their only record. The four piece is made up of long serving local musicians some of whom I have seen play in other groups over recent years. The record has been a long time in the making but is is good that it has finally seen the light of day, although I understand the group has actually called it a day as of 2019 and this was a reunion for the record release.

I arrived soon after door open and was pleased to meet Reagan on the door, the man who runs the record label(Cocomuse) that is releasing the Les Baxters record. We chatted a while and I soon moved off to find a drink and leave him to man the door.

The place filled up quickly as the first act took the stage soon after 9pm. This was a solo sound art set from a guy using the moniker IRD. I was unfamiliar with this, but he was familiar to me by sight from having seen him at gigs around town and I think playing in some band or another I have seen( I don't know his name). Anyhow his set was an interesting piece of sound art involving him manipulating an old turntable and various bits of plastic, wood, paper and other miscellaneous items and some electronics as his canvas. It was an enjoyable piece.

Next up was Motte, whom I hadn't seen play since she came back from Wellington last year I believe. For this set, she set up a lot more electronic beats as she played and looped her violin over the top. I am guessing this is all recent compositions and  I understand she has recordings in the bag ready for some future release. She also did some lovely vocals on this set which I enjoyed a lot..

The place was pretty much full for this nights entertainment as Les Baxrters set themselves behind their desk of equipment. This was something like the fourth time I had seen them play and all the other times they had been supporting other acts I had come to see, so this was the first time I had seen them as the main attraction and actually given them my full attention. It was a great set and I finally got a far better appreciation of what they do. The early Cabaret Voltaire influence was very noticeable to me this time, especially in the electronic back beats they used. The organ and Theremin overlaying the backbeat fills out the sound, with other recorded sounds getting inserted and manipulated to make a very interesting sonic pallet. It was the best set I had seem them play helped along with recognition of several of their songs now that I had seen them several times. I look forward to playing their record when it arrives in the post this week.

Saturday, February 27, 2021

The Big Gig - Christchurch Art Gallery - 19 February 2021


Well, It's been a while since I did much of anything that I can report on this blog for the start of 2021. Mainly because I have started the year getting a lot of things repaired that had been on the list of things to do for quite a while, I have also been focussed on getting rid of my mortgage within the next year or so after that plan was derailed last year due to COVID and shit, and finally body issues have kept me from getting out into the hills these last few months( old age is approaching and I'm falling to bits) and I have been avoiding gigs to help save money. But this gig with this great line up tempted me out for a night.

Put on by the City Council and held at the Art Gallery I guess as part of their Summertime's Program, I was familiar with all the bands playing and indeed all four had records residing in my NZ vinyl collection, with the Bats having not long ago released their 10th album.

I arrived about 15 minutes before the first band, secured a drink and sat down in the huge Foyer of the gallery, where the bands were to preform. I spotted a merch table and sauntered over to have a look. T's and badges and shit but there were three LPs by Opposite Sex. Three LP's? "What's this?" I asked Violet, The lady running the table and a musician herself, whom I have seen play several times, Knowing that Opposite Sex had only two LPs up to this point. "This is Opposite Sex's new album that hasn't actually been released yet. It's fantastic and we have copies for sale tonight". 

"Bugger! I'm not supposed to be buying any new records at present with money saving I am supposed to be doing but you better save me a copy. Wow, $30 is a great price".

Ben Woods hits the stage with his band and rattles through his set of several songs from his last record and maybe others, I am still not as familiar with it as I could be. it's a good and enjoyable set and this time he has a Sax player playing which I don't think I have seen from him before, the set was great and I did indeed recognise a couple of tracks and enjoyed the extra dimensions the Sax presented. On their last song they were joined by a young lady named Lucy to help Ben sing the song.

Friend Craig showed up in the interval between bands as he was keen to see Womb, The next act.

Womb is from Wellington and As I said, I have a record and saw Charlotte play a solo set about three years back. She is an ethereal singer and brings a certain intensity to her performances which I had noticed last time and noticed again this time as she fronted a band for this gig. It was also a pretty good set and Craig mentioned the Cocteau Twins vibe to their set..

Between the bands this time Craig cued to get beer and I to get cash which I duly gave to Violet for my copy of the Opposite Sex record.

Then the Bats were on. The Foyer was now packed as the Bats blasted their was through a fantastic set new and older songs as well as a couple of bonified  NZ classics, It was a great set and I enjoyed it more than the last time I had seen them, now being more familiar with a lot of their more recent music and also having tracked down some of their oldest music on vinyl. They really have become a great live act.

Finally, Opposite Sex played last, unfortunately, a fair chunk of the audience left after The Bats set which was a little disappointing for the band as the deserve to be heard by more people, they should have played before the Bats really. This was my first time seeing them live and it turns out that The singer/bassist was the same Lucy that sang briefly with Ben Woods earlier in the night. Anyhow, they were perhaps the most alternative band of the night and the nosiest even though they were the smallest unit of the evening being only a three piece. They were great, the new songs were sounding really impressive(confirmed when I played the new record the next day) and they played all the familiar favourites I knew from their previous records. It was a great set.

Friday, January 1, 2021

The Axedmen - New Years Eve Eve gig - The Loons - Lyttelton - 30 December 2020


The Axemen, legendary Christchurch weirdos, come out of their hiding hole again for this 2020 New Years Eve Eve celebration at the newly opened and revamped Loons Club in Lyttelton, New Zealand. 

I was familiar with the Axemen in name only back in the 80's when they started out but have, in the last few years managed to collect most of their small vinyl discography, although they actually have quite a vast collection of recordings available to listen to online on their website.

I missed them last time they surfaced a couple of years back, so was keen to get to see them play this time, but also enticing was the slapped together Kiwi super-group The Sundae Painters and the fact that Bruce Russell of The Dead C was the nights DJ.

So I arrived about 8:30pm, scored a drink and settled back to listen to what Bruce was playing on the Turntables(mostly familiar stuff, but a nice eclectic mix with some surprises in that he played some quite famous songs, particularly, Bowie and Creedence Clearwater Revival) and watch the people arriving.

First up was Violet French and The Horrible. Fortunately, they weren't Horrible, it was an enjoyable set of rocking riffs and some catchy tunes. I have seen Violet several times in various bands but this was the first time in her own band but I did not recognize any of the rest of the band. Still, they played a great set of songs.

Bruce spun some more tunes in-between bands and I caught up with  Reagan Elliot of Cocomuse Records and talked about their upcoming vinyl releases.

Sundae Painters are five legends of New Zealand Music, who have recently got together for this project and already have a couple of songs on Bandcamp and a video for one of them. They were certainly part of the reason I was drawn to this gig. Some of the cream of NZ music from the early 80s and even earlier with Alec Bathgate of The Enemy/Toy Love, Hamish Kilgour of The Clean and The Great Unwashed, Kaye Woodward of the Bats and Minisnap, Paul Kean of The Bats and Toy Love and Delaney Davidson, a more recent troubadour of outstanding reputation.

Their set was pretty good, I didn't recognize any of the songs, although they did announce a Tall Dwarf song but I didn't recognize it, and later another Young lady joined on Keyboards. One song Hamish sang from the drum kit and it seems to be some sort of rave against the gun toting rednecks in the US, there was some pretty heavy language thrown out with plenty of vitriol. Hamish swapped with Delaney for the last song, and it had some similar language on a similar theme as he finished the song by handing his guitar to someone in the front of the audience and heading into the crowd with his microphone.

I almost missed it as I was getting a drink, but some unholy noise erupted from the stage soon after the end of the Sundae Painters set and as I wandered back up the from I see Bruce Russell and Delaney Davidson abusing their guitars and making a wonderful drone/wall of noise for only a very short time but it was a great improv. I tried to video it but stuffed it up somehow so got nothing. 

And finally, The "Axedmen"  hit the stage. The band on record, especially their early stuff, are chaotic, Lofi and sound so amateur and yet there is so much happening in their music and the songs are most intriguing. After nearly 40 years though, the band have developed into a pretty tight rock unit and just stripped to basic rock instruments, as opposed to the additional electronics they sometimes added in the old days, they sounds bloody impressive. So, they are playing their weird songs but it is straight rocking punky style and I only actually recognized one song, being the excellent Nutsack Single from 2011. Their set was bloody great.


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

The Spurs - 6 December 2020


One thing I wasn't going to mention to my wife after my fall on Rome Ridge several weeks back was that The Spurs was where a friend in the club had also taken a bad fall about 5 or so years earlier. I had originally signed up for that trip but pulled out after having a big day the previous day on the Atkins tops in Arthurs Pass.This club trip was lead by the same leader as the Rome Ridge trip and several of the same participants were with us. I meet the group at Windwistle and jumped in one of the cars for the long drive in to Glenthorn Station. when we arrived we had to report into the station house to let them know we were here and what our intentions were. The leader received instructions on where to park our cars and how to get to the access point to get us onto the track up towards Gargarus saddle but somehow we missed the correct spot and ended up bush bashing a while until we finally found the track we needed to be on. You can see from my track profile on Google Earth that I hadn't started recording until we were in the middle of the bush looking for the route.

We finally found the required track and continued on towards the saddle before veering northward for the climb to point 1706. It was a decent slog, sometimes on fairly loose shingle and this scribe was the last to reach the top where some food was taken in and the views enjoyed on a mostly calm day as the predicted winds managed to stay away. Then is was on wards for another 200m of ascent and things begin to get a lot more rocky and some mild rock climbing is required to get to point 1902. After that some of us dropped slightly to go below some more rockier stuff before heading on to the high point of 1985. By the time I got onto the actual Spurs at point 1964, the rest of the group had disappeared from my view and after looking around to see if i could see which way they had gone, I had to consult my map to figure the direction I now needed to go. I soon spotted the rest as the were sideling around point 1632 and heading for the saddle below. We regrouped at the saddle then plunged down the average scree to the head of a side stream of Boundary Stream. The trip down the stream was pretty tough underfoot at first and lots of bush bashing and stream crossing was needed to get us to the farm track that took us the long slog back to the cars.

The trip took about 9 hours, we walked about 16.5km and climbed about 1600M. I was knackered.

Here is a great video taken by one of the trampers on the trip.

Saturday, December 5, 2020

Th' Dudes - Christchurch Town Hall - 4 December 2020


Iconic Kiwi Classic rock band Th' Dudes were only in existence for about three years from 1977-1980 and released two albums and 5 original singles, and yet 5 songs from that brief period have become the cornerstone of New Zealand Classic Rock. Dave Dobbyn has become one of the most celebrated NZ artists in the 40 years since their demise and the others in the band have been involved in the music industry in various roles ever since.

In support of a recent vinyl only release compiling several of their original songs, Th' Dudes hit the road for the final ever time playing the songs that made them famous over the last 40 years. 

It was to a packed out Christchurch Town Hall that the band preformed on this December evening. We arrived early enough that my wife and myself were able to find a spot at the very front of the stage and routed ourselves to that place for the night. I don't usually do that at gigs but she was keen so stood behind her.

The support band was Racing, a four piece from Auckland with whom I was familiar, as I had picked up their debut album earlier in the year and had been enjoying their White Stripes meets Electric Six dance rock. They did a pretty good set with some impressive fretwork from their guitarist that captured my attention on a couple of songs in their 30 minute set.

 Th' Dudes hit the stage at 9pm, with Rikki Morris standing in for his late Brother Ian, who passed away in 2010, but the rest of the group being the original member except a young lady on additional guitar and backing vocals.

They started in with the first of those 5 iconic rock songs " Right First Time" and instantly had the crowd singing along and fully engaged. The light show was rather impressive with the images displayed on what looked like two great stacks of amplifiers. They rocked on through their catalog of songs that I was not familiar with, even though I do have a copy of their 1st album and they sounded great and then of course they played the second of the big songs and every one is singing along again, this time being " That Look In Your Eyes". In the middle of the set, they played a solo song from Dave Dobbyn, his "Loyal" with Peter Urlich taking on the vocal duties. again, although I personally don't really dig it, the crowd knew all the lyrics and sung along with gusto and Dave couldn't stop grinning. It must be an amazing feeling to be on the stage like that and have the entire audience sing along word for word to one of your songs. Rikki Morris also do his big solo hit as well. For the third big number, a little later on, "Walking in Light" Peter Urlich, really encouraged the crowd singalong, even though they really didn't need any encouragement. Then it was straight into the biggest song, "Be Mine Tonight" and from where I was standing the crowd singing on the first line reach new heights. The set finished with the final of the most famous of their songs, their ode to drinking, "Bliss" and one of the great party songs of this country and the crowd goes ballistic. The head off stage at the end of the song, and I am thinking they have played all the biggies, what more can they do for an encore, and an encore is demanded. The Encore is played, two great covers, being "Wild Thing" and Iggy Pop's "The Passenger", great songs  and played really well but  in some ways a little anti climatic.Still overall it was a fantastic show both myself and my wife very well satisfied with what we saw.

I found this excellent Video someone made from the upper seats. You can see the back of my head just to the left of the big security guard.


Sunday, November 29, 2020

Reid & Ruins - The Piano - Christchurch - 26 November 2020


Nadia Reid must be getting pretty popular after needing to put on a second show with Tiny Ruins after the Friday night show sold out rather quickly. This was good for me as I dithered around for ages deciding whether I was going to go or not, especially after already seeing Nadia down in Oamaru earlier in the year. It actually turned out that we got the invite to my wholesalers end of year bash for early on the same evening as the gig and there were still tickets for the Thursday night and my wife indicated she would like to go also, so it all fell into place. 

After scoffing ourselves full to bursting at the work do, we headed off the to The Piano, and duly found some good seats once the doors opened. Nadia and Tiny Ruins (Holly Fullbrook) duly take the stage with just acoustic guitars and with out any introduction, go straight into their first number. After that they then explained the format of the show, and after doing "rock, paper., scissors" Nadia played her solo set first. 

She was a bit slower getting into the groove this show, although the first couple of songs she played were unfamiliar to me even though they maybe on one of her  three records I have, but then she started playing stuff I did know and I thought her performance lifted and my wife though the same. She swapped around between electric and acoustic guitar and again showed just hoe good a songwriter and singer she is. Although not as powerful a set as she did down on Oamaru earlier, it was satill a most enjoyable set.

Tiny Ruins has also been round the tracks for a while now and has a few albums under her belt. I saw her play live with a band about three years previously and wasn't all that impressed on that night with what I heard, so I had not bought any of her music until her last album "Olympic Girls" which had impressed me a lot.  Tiny played a bunch of her songs, some I didn't know but a couple from the aforementioned album I did and they were great. She did a lot of talking between songs but what really impressed was her guitar playing. She is technically, well ahead of Nadia in this department  and really impressed with her skills on her acoustic. The first song had all sorts of cord and tempo changes and almost felt like it could have sat well on Van Morrison's Astral Weeks album with its jazzy feel.  Her singing is almost as good as Nadia but she is not as strong a songwriter. She also played a great set.

The last part of the show was them both preforming together. They are old friends and also flatted together several years ago, so they know each other well and sing together wonderfully. They have a similar singing style and their voices complemented each other well on the several songs they did, including a Dylan cover and a Don McGlashan song. The ending to a very good show.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Mt O'Malley - 22 November 2020

 Uncle Roddus Tramping Dairy: Tramp No. 182

Mt O'Malley - 22 November 2020

Short Report as I have done this trip before back in 2015 and there is another post covering that. A club trip with 12 participants on a not too hot partly sunny day. Typical Arthurs Pass very steep slog up the first 500m of climbing through the bush to our first scrog stop then onto point 1844. Some scrambling along the tops and some sideling round the difficult bits. Myself and one other decided to drop down to the tarn instead of summiting O'Malley, where we relaxed in the sun until the others joined us. Then the downward slog back to the cars. About 7 hours and a bit.


Ben Lomond - Queenstown - 13th November 2020

 Uncle Roddus Tramping Diary: Tramp No 181

Ben Lomond 13th November 2020

A long weekend and a trip to Cromwell for the Mother In Laws 90th Birthday. While my Wife spent the day with her mum, I took the opportunity to stretch my legs after the layoff while recovering from my fall on the last trip out. Ben Lomond towers above Queenstown and offers fantastic views of the lake and surrounding mountains. This was my second trip up this hill, the last time being at the start  of 2013.

 The trip is a straight forward 1400 M slog up a very well used track from the waterfront through the pine forest and mountain bike tracks. Rested and ate soon after reaching the bushline and had another rest on the saddle before the more rugged slog up the last 300m to the peak. It was very hot. I was a lot slower on this trip than the last time I did it. took me about 7 hours this time.