18 Sep 2019
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  • Dragon - Gig Review: Toto and Jefferson Starship with Dragon @ Hagley Park, Christchurch - 13/01/2019

Dragon - Gig Review: Toto and Jefferson Starship with Dragon @ Hagley Park, Christchurch - 13/01/2019

14 Jan 2019 // A review by Jacquie Walters

The sound of deck chairs being put out, the rustle of picnic baskets, and the popping of corks were good signs that Christchurch was ready for a relaxing summer afternoon of music in North Hagley Park. Rain was forecast (and some did eventuate) but this didn't dampen spirits.

There's always a danger with a line-up of acts best known for their glory days some time ago. There's a nervous moment when audience members wonder if nostalgia won't be enough to carry the day or if there may have been a noticeable lessening of skill as the intervening years have taken their toll. There have certainly been gigs I've attended in the past where that has been the case.

All three acts on today's bill delivered, mainly because they didn't pretend to be anything other than who and what they were. Sure, everyone's older (so are those of us who remember when their music first came out) but they're still great musicians and singers, and the quality of the songs that were their hits endures. It's great material and it was delivered with heart and skill to an audience responded with warmth.

Dragon, led by Mark Williams provided a really enjoyable opening set. The crowd sang along with gusto on the big numbers - April Sun in Cuba, Rain and Are You Old Enough? - and the hour-long set as a whole really stood up. Great musicianship from seasoned professionals was on show, with Bruce Reid on slide guitar providing a stand out moment.

Congratulations are due to the crew who staged this gig. The transitions between acts were smooth and timely and Jefferson Starship took to the stage without the crowd losing interest.

Cathy Richardson's vocals were superb. She is the real lynchpin of the current line up and provided visual interest and real rock star chops. Her voice is still absolutely terrific. Jude Gold on guitar was also excellent. David Freiberg's vocals were somewhat weaker (although they did improve as the set progressed) but considering he turned 80 last year and is still touring he can only be admired.

The crowd was of course waiting for We Built This City, a song with particular significance for Christchurch, and the band delivered it with a special acknowledgement of what the song meant for Cantabrians. They completely did the number justice and it was a highlight of the afternoon. Somebody to Love was also terrific and provided a reminder that the original incarnation of this band (Jefferson Airplane) played at Woodstock and were now in New Zealand for the first time 50 years later. That kind of musical longevity is to be honoured and applauded. What a musical legacy they have created!

It was left to Toto to round out the event. The band have made headlines since their arrival in New Zealand when they reacted with great presence, and lovely singing, to the welcome they received at Auckland Airport. The group have evidently enjoyed their time in this country and took to their set with genuine gusto. Love Isn't Always On Time really got the crowd going. The group's vocals were excellent throughout. Rosanna was another crowd favourite and it was enjoyable to hear Toto perform Human Nature, a track which featured on Michael Jackson's album Thriller and was co-written by Toto band member Steve Porcaro and John Bettis.

What was evident throughout the set were the long-standing relationships at the heart of the band's line-up, with references made to friendships that span decades and musical collaborations that started in garage rehearsals as teenagers. That's a deeply special connection to have at the heart of any music, and that connection was evident in the group's beautiful vocal harmonies, collaborative style and musicianship.

The set belonged of course to only one song - Africa - with the band thanking New Zealand fans for encouraging a resurgence in the track's popularity 30 years after its original release. The vocals were every bit as good live as they were on the original record.

It's a treat for New Zealand audiences to see a triple bill like this. The crowd left happy and hopefully the musicians had just as much fun as those of us listening did.

 

About Dragon

Dragon was one of Australasia’s top groups from the mid 70’s to mid 80’s. After two moderately successful albums for Polygram NZ, Dragon moved to Australia in 1975 and by 1978 had conquered that country also with smash singles like 'April Sun in Cuba', 'Are you Old Enough' and 'Still in Love With You'.

The classic line-up from 1975 – 1979 consisted of Marc Hunter, Todd Hunter, Paul Hewson, Robert Taylor and various drummers. In 1998 Raven via EMI released two compilations of Dragon recordings; a single disc greatest hits called 'Snake Eyes on the Paradise' and a double album called 'Tales From the Dark Side' which included the greatest hits plus a disc of collectable items including Marc Hunter solo material.

Dragon are an important part of kiwi music history, Dragon was known world-wide. Formed in the 70's, they are known best for their hits 'April Sun in Cuba' and 'Are You Old Enough'.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Dragon

Releases

The Very Best Of Dragon
Year: 2010
Type: Album
Universal Radio
Year: 2009
Type: Album
The Essential Dragon
Year: 2007
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Sunshine To Rain
Year: 2006
Type: Album
The Great Dragon
Year: 2004
Type: Album
Incarnations
Year: 1995
Type: Album
Cuts From The Tough Times
Year: 1990
Type: Album
Bondi Road
Year: 1989
Type: Album
Their Classic Collection
Year: 1988
Type: Album
Dreams Of Ordinary Men
Year: 1986
Type: Album
Live One
Year: 1985
Type: Album
Body And The Beat
Year: 1984
Type: Album
Power Play
Year: 1979
Type: Album
Greatest Hits Volume 1
Year: 1979
Type: Album
O Zambesi
Year: 1978
Type: Album
Running Free
Year: 1977
Type: Album
Sunshine
Year: 1977
Type: Album
Scented Gardens For The Blind
Year: 1975
Type: Album
Universal Radio
Year: 1974
Type: Album

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