This was a gig that came a little out of the blue with a notice popping up on The Builders Facebook page earlier in the week and it seems very little else in advertising or promotion that I saw elsewhere. It was also a bit of a surprise as last time I saw Bill Direen and this particular version of His Builders, he announced at the end of the gig that it would be the last time we would be seeing The Builders play in New Zealand as he was retiring the band after a few gigs in Australia.
It looks like he enjoys it too much to really hang up the towel and I am most pleased to have got to see them play again. It was October 2018 the last time I saw this group over the road at The Darkroom.
Bill has convened many different versions of The Builders under several different variants of the name over the last 40 Years, but this is the same band he played with in the last gig mentioned above, Greg Bainbridge on bass, Stuart Page(of Axemen Fame) on drums and Bill on guitar, keyboard and vocals, the lineup that recorded The Conch 3 album in 1985.
I arrived early at Space Academy, just on door opening time and was about the third person through the door. The Band was sitting around in the front porch waiting for Bill to show and they actually started playing just prior to 9PM. Space Academy is a small venue but the audience this night was rather small with perhaps about a dozen people in attendance for the first 30 odd minutes of the set. A few more straggles in as the evening progressed but the venue was not even quarter full by the time the band had a break around 10PM.
The lack of people didn't phase Bill at all, the band played on with Bill telling stories and introducing the songs that were drawn from all the periods of his long career, with songs going back to the late 70s when he was living in Blenheim, right up to "The Utopians are Just Out Boozing" from just a couple of years back. The band played subtly and mostly restrained and at a pleasant volume as Bill does, so it was easy to hear all that was played. Bill's music is quite a unique blend of indie/alternative rock always propelled along with great bass lines and Bill's un processed guitar sound and poetic lyrics. Hugely respected and written about in the annals of NZ music but still little known to the wider NZ public, still I love intimate gigs like this one. It was a great night.