20 Sep 2021
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Sir Dave Dobbyn - Gig Review: Dave Dobbyn @ Spark Arena, Auckland - 01/11/2020

02 Nov 2020 // A review by Kev Rowland

One thing I have never understood about attending a concert is why so many people turn up in time for the main act, but not for the support. True, sometimes they are dire, but there have also been times when for me they have shown up the main act so badly that I have the left the gig. Come to think of it, that happened to me at the Arena once when Disturbed seem woeful after Tiamat, so I went outside and sat on the boulders waiting for my mates.

Milly Tabak & The Miltones were a revelation to me, and I can guarantee it is not the last time I have seen them play. Milly has a wonderful voice and presence, powerful but always in control with a tight band behind her. The music is always geared towards her vocals, providing the perfect support, with Milly providing additional guitar in some songs (she loved having a guitar tech for the evening). Americana classic rock, with vocals full of breadth and emotion, this was some performance. Highlights were probably My Sister, where she told us the story of her two great aunts, and Honest Woman, both from the latest album. Polished, refined, yet with grit and passion, the only thing wrong with her set was that it was too short. I only wish the whole audience of 3000+ had been there to witness it. Next time.

The stage was set like an open cube, with scaffolding covered with lights, and more on the stage, with the corner facing the audience. This mean that when Dave Dobbyn came onstage he was at the point, bassist Jo Barus and guitarist Victoria Girling-Butcher were either side behind him, his long-time friend and drummer Ross Burge was at the rear, with keyboard player Mark Vanilau on a small riser and trumpet and saxophone off to one side (they did not play on every song, instead leaving and returning throughout the set). Tonight, Dave was playing full rock, no room for acoustic (although Victoria did strum one every so often), and the Open Up Tour was all about hits from more than 40 years of being one of our most iconic musicians.

He dropped Whaling in as the second song of the set, and everyone was singing, swaying, and in awe of hearing a song we all know so well, yet being given new life in what was rapidly becoming a very special event indeed. He followed it up with Loyal, just Dave, his guitar and the whole of Spark Arena providing additional vocals. The band let us have it all until the second verse, when they came in and it ended with a beck and call with the crowd. Due to the way the Arena had been set up, it seemed very personal, and Dave wasn’t too far away from anyone. He spoke about not being able to play concerts, and how it was like not being able to eat food, then launched into yet another classic with You Oughta Be In Love.

He said how some of the songs were created in the black sands of Bethells Beach, then played The Lap of the Gods from 1994’s Twist, which was the first album of his I ever owned. Tonight really was an incredible night – the slight spoken fumbles were made fun of when he called himself Biden – but when he was singing and playing, he showed himself to be the rock icon we all know and love. It was an event where every fan of the man went away satiated, as it was half a concert and half karaoke, as we all shouted out the words to Be Mine Tonight, with horns adding additional depth to some of the numbers, two electric guitars crunching along and a rhythm section who are incredibly solid. Love You Like I Should just belted out, taking the place by storm. Tonight, it all looked so easy, as one would expect from someone who has been playing anywhere and everywhere in Aotearoa for so many years, and the crowd were with him every step of the way. Early on I had noticed some audience microphones, and during the set I heard the news I had been waiting for, that there will be a live release coming (on vinyl!) of what was a special night indeed.

It was one of those gigs where time had no meaning, hit followed hit, we all lost our voices, we swayed, people held up their phones (not quite the same impact as lighters), and then a different guitar was brought out. Dave strapped it on, told the crowd it was Excalibur, and that it had been given to him by the Lady of the Lake. A few tentative notes, and then it was into Bliss and the crowd reacted even more. It was loud, it was heavy, the horns added additional bottom end, and was simply immense. Chris Mac from Six60 came onstage for the final song of the main set, Slice of Heaven, and virtually everyone was up on their feet.

Of course, they could not leave it there, so came back with a few more, ending the night with Welcome Home. The guys went to the front of the stage, took their bows, and it was over. The band were great, tight yet loose, restrained yet ready to let rip, while Ross was ready to hit his skins really hard when the time was right. This was a faultless show, more than 90 minutes of a consummate performer, a Kiwi rock god, who held every single person in the palm of his hand. Tonight I am feeling for you, Under the state of a strange land, You have sacrificed much to be here, There but for grace as I offer my hand, Welcome home, I bid you welcome, I bid you welcome, Welcome home from the bottom of my heart. Last night we were all home, and made to feel very welcome indeed.


Photos courtesy of Antonia Pearl Photography/ Nikita Weir Images.

 

About Sir Dave Dobbyn

Sir Dave Dobbyn is regarded as a national treasure in New Zealand. Wherever Kiwis gather around the world, it is likely to be songs by Dave Dobbyn they sing when thinking of home.

In 2001, after almost 30 years as a musician and songwriter, Dobbyn was given a rare, lifetime achievement award by the New Zealand recording industry. Instead of a speech, the managing director of Sony New Zealand just read out a long list of song titles - Beside You, Be Mine Tonight, Language, Outlook for Thursday, Loyal, Whaling, Kingdom Come, It Dawned On Me, Guilty, Devil You Know, Slice of Heaven, Magic What She Do, Oughta Be in Love …

These songs, written by Dobbyn, had moved people throughout the country. They were songs they had danced to with their first lover, songs they have married to, songs that made them laugh and cry or even played when burying their loved ones.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Sir Dave Dobbyn

Releases

Harmony House
Year: 2016
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Beside You
Year: 2009
Type: Album
Anotherland
Year: 2008
Type: Album
Available Light
Year: 2005
Type: Album
Hopetown
Year: 2000
Type: Album
Overnight Success
Year: 1999
Type: Album
The Islander
Year: 1998
Type: Album
Twist
Year: 1994
Type: Album
Lament For The Numb
Year: 1993
Type: Album
Loyal
Year: 1988
Type: Album
Footrot Flats
Year: 1986
Type: Album

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