It’s a little bit funny


On wednesday night I was ready to go to A Songwriter Speaks to hear a presentation and some music from Dave Dobbyn and others courtesy of APRA of which I am a writer member. Then at about 4:45 I got a call saying that thre were 4 comp tickets available for Elton John’s first gig in Auckland for 10 years. Well sorry Dave, but I’m sure I’ll be able to see you in Auckland again within the next 10 years and sorry APRA for not using the tickets you kindly sent me.

Well the concert was great and I agree with everything said in the NZ Herald review, in fact it really stole my thunder and it’s great to see a nice review in the paper that doesn’t spend time aggrandising the reviewer and tells it how we all saw it. What a great night.

Elton flew in from Sydney in the late afternoon, came to town, did his sound checks, relaxed did the gig and within an hour was back on his plane to Sydney. Given that this is his 3rd trip down here in 3 years (I said not in Auckland remember?) I guess all I can be is grateful that he took the time to pop down and share with us. As he said, it is such a long way to come.

We love Elton down here (who doesn’t) and he always gives a great show and although he didn’t talk much, he took the time to do autographs for everyone in the front row of the stage which was awesome in these paranoic days and kudos to security for not getting carried away, which you see overseas all the time.

As to the music, it was awesome, it was a wonder I could play at my own gig last night after shouting and singing for almost 3 hours. There was some virtuoso piano playing which was awesome to listen to and watch on thebig screens. How does he play so well with his little hands? One of my favourites was his 10-12 minute rendition of Rocket Man and the others were almost everything he played.

I mustn’t forget Davey Johnstone, the awesome guitar player from Scotland, now of Los Angeles, who’s stage collection of guitars made my 6 look puny. Davey has played with Elton for many years as well as on the Tommy show. He ha also featured on a number of Elton John Albums including Goodbye Yellow Brick Road in 2001. He has worked with a Who’s Who of artists in the past. He even merits his own page in Wikipedia. He first played with Elton as early as 1972 on Honkey Chateau which was Elton’s first number one album in the US.

Amongst the guitars that caught my attention at the show were a Fender Strat and a Fender Tele, Gibson Les Paul, Gibson Flying V, 2 double neck guitars that I suspect might be Rickenbakkers, one tuned for slide and the other including a 12 string. Then there were 4 (I think accoustic guitars including a 12 string and a nylon string and then there was the banjo. I told my wife that I have some buying to do, but first of all I had better sell some songs. Anyone looking for a new country song?

Elton John aka Reginald Dwight is a legend. He’s been around and started performing before I was born and I’ve been around a while. I could tell you what I was doing and where my life was at when a number of his songs were released and I’m sure you could do the same with songs like Rocket Man, Daniel, Song for Guy, Candle in the Wind……… I don’t need to mention them all, you know them. Of course Bernie Taupin was a major factor in his success he has continued to write and reinvent himself and is still current in my book with recent works including work on Lion King, Billy Elliot and loads more including loads of benefits, the tribute to Princess Diana and some awesome DVD’s and specials.

What impressed me more than anything was that at 61 years old and having been through so much in his life, his voice is as strong as ever, capable of bellowing out for 3 hours, his keyboard playing is if anything continuing to develop, especially creatively. Watching him on stage, other than his acrobatics being a little more subdued you wouldn’t have thought him more than 40 years old.

Thanks Elton, for coming down to New Zealand again, you have adoring fans aged from 8 to 80 and you will always find a warm welcome and big audience, even at the crazy prices they charged. One final footnote on the Vector Arena. The accoustics aren’t great, but the sound engineers did a brilliant job. It’s hard enough to make sure people get good sound throughout a major venue, but even more so with such challenging accoustics. Kudos guys.

Carlos Santana Live Your Light Auckland 2008


Carlos Santana graced Auckland last night with an amazing concert at the Vector Arena last night. Starting with Jingo and ending with favourites such as Black Magic Woman, the man who is on a crusade for world peace showed that te decades have not slowed him down.

While most people probably didn’t get to hear the old favourites they were hoping for Carlos and an outstanding band of drummers, percussionists, brass, keys and bass got an Auckland crowd onto their feet and showed that he still has the magic. This isn’t a man living off his old songs, this is a musician, a master craftsman who constantly reinvents himself while still paying homage to his roots.

He and his band played for a solid 2 1/2 hours which for most of us could have happily extended for another hour or more. I can’t remember the names of his band, but would go and see any of them on their own. Carlos is not afraid of being outshone by his musicians, rather he brings the best he can find and gives them all a chance to show their chops.

The only negative is that the Vector Arena still hasn’t got their sound sorted. Sitting upstairs with one ear facing the speakers and the other ear getting the echo it was probably far more noticable than for the people sittingdownstairs facing the stage. Every beat started in the ear facing the speakers and then came back to the other one. This would have been novel once in one of the awesome drum solo’s, but after a while it got a bit tiring to a musician who likes to hear exactly what is happening. The sound people never got the vocal levels right either and it was often difficult to hear the lyrics and I don’t think they did the singers justice. Of course in general a Santana fan doesn’t go to hear vocals butwhat we heard sounded like they could have been very good.

Other than that, I now have a new Santana concert to remember and even more admiration for a man who not only keeps growing musically and spiritually, but seems true to his convictions and for all that he has achieved, remains a humble man.

A final note, Blue King Brown from Australia who were the supporting act couldn’t have been better for the job. Their music was authentic but in a similar vein and they warmed up the crowd superbly. I’ll be checking out their MySpace Page and looking out for an album. I’ll be watching out for their next visit here.