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Don McGlashan - Gig Review: Don McGlashan @ Totara St, Mount Maunganui - 20/09/2018

23 Sep 2018 // A review by Corinne Rutherford

Don McGlashan has a voice which is instantly recognisable to many Kiwis, formerly from bands such as The Mutton Birds, Blam Blam Blam, The Front Lawn and The Bellbirds among others. He is a talented multi-instrumentalist, composer and singer who has now gone solo and is wowing crowds up and down the country with his Free Flight tour.


It was a Thursday night in Tauranga, yet he managed to pack out Totara St, both levels. There were rows of chairs across the entire venue, doing away with the dance floor. This was a good indication that the people who came to see him play were serious about his music and were there to listen and listen they did, at one point he even had to tell the crowd that it was ok to move to go to the bar. No one seemed to want to miss a moment of his performance.

Don was supported by Arthur Ahbez, who delighted us with lyrically beautiful and poetic lyrics. Folk music incorporating acoustic guitars and harmonica and a delightful and impressive vocal range. Occasionally through his set I was reminded of Neil Young. Although there were a few murmurings from the crowd as he played, they seemed to admire his talent and he received a rousing round of appreciation at the end. His voice is uniquely different, his songwriting impressive. The Moisturiser song went down a treat with the audience.

After a short interval, Don hit the stage with no preamble except for a "how's it going?" to the audience. He launched straight into it with that voice which was so familiar to me, that it was almost surreal sitting in a front row at Totora St listening to him play live.

Hold On To Your Loneliness, the second song of his set cemented what a brilliant story teller he is. He informed the crowd that he was going to “play a bunch of songs he felt like doing” but then asked the audience to call out requests which he proceeded to honour throughout the night. This was the first indication of how crowd participation is an integral part of his show.

McGlashan is a master of the loop pedal and Bad Blood highlighted this when he had the audience hum a few lines. It actually sounded brilliant played back and added another depth to the song. Looking around I could see people were rather impressed. He recorded the audience several times that night to incorporate into his set. A true charismatic performer who includes his audience not just play to them. His sense of humour and wit added to his impressive stage presence. For one man, he sure filled up the stage with the sound of a full-blown band.

It was around five songs in when he produced the French Horn. So, what we had was the incredible sound of brass added in the mix. It was nothing short of brilliant. Next came the keyboard.

I would also like at stage to point out that it was probably the cleanest sound I have ever heard at Totara St. Crisp and clear, big ups to the sound tech on the night.

Song For Sue is a song only a few weeks old, McGlashan wrote it for a friend who passed away. It was touching and heartfelt, a beautiful tribute to someone close to his heart, you could see and feel the emotion when he performed this for us.

He then moved onto a Mutton Bird classic In My Room, and people started singing along. The faint cries of Anchor Me rang out across the room. He assured the audience it was coming, we just didn't know when.

There was more recording of the audience's vocals when he played The Heater, a song I had not heard before about Frank and his talking heater. I suspect whoever Frank was, was perhaps taking an illegal substance, I have so many questions surrounding Frank and his heater.

Lucky Stars, I will Not Let You Down and While You Sleep came next. More exceptional stories delivered beautifully.

Impressive recording and playback of the French Horn created a song of many layers and a full sound in a rendition of A Thing Well Made by The Mutton Birds. The crowd is now crying out for Dominion Road and Anchor Me.

At this point of the evening Don mentions he has tea towels for merch with ducks on them. I have never come across that before, but sure makes for an original talking point.

Along The Boundary is a song about a song he had in his head when he was five years old. The lyrics had a youthful sense of innocence.

We were getting to the tail end of the evening and still no Anchor Me but Pulled Along By Love got the audience going and I am pretty sure everyone was singing. I was so mesmerized watching him that I almost forgot to sing, all the while trying to store information in my memory bank to recall later, so when Dominion Road came next I sang along to the whole thing. That was the final song in his set. Hang on a minute didn't you forget something Mr McGlashan?

We all know that there is always an encore, and after a minute of composing himself off stage, Don returned and proceeded to ask the crowd what they wanted him to sing. There were many different songs thrown at him and cries stating the obvious one. However, he chose to sing a song called White Valiant. It was great, but it was not my all-time favourite Kiwi song, it wasn't the song that I have happily played over and over again through various stages of my life. And then the first chords of Anchor Me rang out into the audience. Full fathom five. Someday I'll lie. Singing songs that come. From dead men's tongues.

Everybody was singing, we all knew the words to such a New Zealand music classic. I think my eyes actually welled up at the sense of occasion and beauty of the moment. Don McGlashan delivered a faultless rendition on the keyboard, offering a perfect finish to a wonderful evening of music.

This was a performance I was glad not to have missed, the night from start to finish was wonderfully entertaining and thoroughly enjoyable. I definitely give this a five-tea towel rating.


Review written by Corinne Rutherford

 

About Don McGlashan

Don McGlashan is one of New Zealand’s best known and highly regarded songwriters.

Don was a member of Philip Dadson’s From Scratch music/performance art group from 1979-86. The group performed worldwide and Don helped record three albums while a member.

In 1980, with guitarist Mark Bell and bassist Tim Mahon, he formed Auckland band Blam Blam Blam. His song Don't Fight It, Marsha, It’s Bigger Than Both of Us was named 'Song of the Year' in the 1982 New Zealand Recording Industry Awards.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Don McGlashan

Releases

Lucky Stars
Year: 2015
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Marvellous Year
Year: 2009
Type: Album
Warm Hand
Year: 2006
Type: Album
An Angel At My Table OST
Year: 1991
Type: Album

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