20 Oct 2019
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Gig Review: Tally Ho 3 @ Town Hall, Dunedin - 13/04/2019

14 Apr 2019 // A review by Darryl Baser

The idea of an orchestral concert featuring some of the best known songs from the often debated ‘Dunedin sound’ began with two main drivers: Verlaines founder and music lecturer Graeme Downes, and ‘godfather’ of Dunedin music, Roy (Roi) Colbert, having its first installment in 2015.

While Downes again led the evening from the stage, the spirit of Roy who passed away in 2017 was also in the room. Also, there and seated in the front row was Mr Chris Knox who, despite still living with the effects of a stroke in 2009, was one of the first people on his feet for a standing ovation at the end of the show.

The evening began with a ¾ full Dunedin Town Hall hearing the greatest piece of atonal music frequently played, as the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra tuned up.

First song on the bill is the tune which gave the event its name: Tally Ho from The Clean, with Molly Devine and Metitilani Alo beginning the first of their many appearances for the night.

The second song, James, Jimmy, Nuisance, Hemi was the first of a few songs penned by Downes being performed by the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra and assorted singers.

Following nicely were re-worked and orchestrated versions of Look Blue Go Purple’s Cactus Cat, The Puddle’s Southern Man, and The 3Ds Outer Space, with Molly and Metitilani at the helm. Anthonie Tonnon then came out to lead the Molly and Metitilani show for his tune Water Underground, which featured a (in my opinion) completely superfluous audience sing-along section, but many enjoyed and sang along, I’m just a curmudgeon at times.

Dunedin-based, internationally renowned opera singer Anna Leese strode out in an awesome frock, befitting her role as one of the stars of the show, and absolutely nailed Jay Clarkson’s song written when she led The Expendables, Man With No Desire. I’ve loved Jay’s original version and voice for years, and hearing Anna Leese wrapping her pipes around all the analogue slides up and down to notes was stunning.

One of the biggest rounds of applause followed as Martin Phillipps came out to lead a haunting version of Pink Frost. I love that he acknowledged Chris Knox while on stage. You’re pure class old friend.

Another favoured Dunedin (straight outta Brockvillle) son, with an almost trademark-able cheeky grin and boyish charm, Shayne P Carter swaggered out to lead Molly and the DSO in She Speeds, giving a lesson in excellent microphone technique. Carter departed leaving Molly Devine to sing another Carter composition Randolph’s Going Home.

The first half finished with Graeme Downes returning to the stage for the epic The Ballad of Harry Noryb, and it certainly was epic, it was a huge way to finish the first half.

The second half began with Molly Devine taking on the Straitjacket Fits Dialing A Prayer, musically it suited the orchestration, and although Molly was pitch perfect I just didn’t feel it.

Carter, in a splendid razor sharp blue suit, strode out to lead another ‘Fits tune Cast Stone, and ‘oh my gosh yes’ was pretty much all I thought.

Nadia Reid looked dressed for an afternoon of Goth tennis as she walked on stage, and led her tune Call The Days beautifully - she is 100% on form and her voice suited being a-top the sparse orchestration, totally in keeping with the beauty of the original.

Anthonie Tonnon came out to sing The Clean’s tune Getting Older. I can’t help but wonder if Tonnon knew David Kilgour and Robert Scott were watching from the circle.

Looking back over the evening, and my poorly scribbled notes it was hard to pic a favourite or a highlight, but Anna Leese’s floating and at times piercing vocal on The 3D’s Spooky would be pretty high up there, as it was fabulous.

Nadia’s Right On Time was also quite spectacular, and Martin leading Submarine Bells was tear-in-the-eye sublime.

My favourite light-hearted moment of the night was as all of the leading singers assembled Martin Phillipps and Shayne P Carter had a play fight over who gets more of the microphone they were sharing. It made me laugh so loud a couple of people turned around, it was awesome to see such beautiful playfulness at such a high brow event.

One of the (in my opinion) greatest things about the Tally Ho series, and why I implore all those involved to do it again, even though it’s about 9 months hard labour for some of those behind the scenes, is that it’s a cross over event, bridging the gap between the classical and rock worlds. For that I 100% commend Graeme Downes, as it’s his vision and ability to hear what can be done with three chords and an orchestra that makes this possible. Good on you mate.

A five out of five star event.

 

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