11 Aug 2022
UsernamePassword

Remember Me? | Join | Recover
Click here to sign in via social networking

Dragon - Gig Review: Dragon @ The Tuning Fork, Auckland - 3/02/21

04 Feb 2021 // A review by Kev Rowland

When The Biggest Pub Gig In The World took place at the end of last year, I truly felt there was a band missing from the bill who would have made the line-up complete, Dragon. Not only are they an  iconic New Zealand band, with countless hit singles and songs to their name, but they have been a solid gigging unit since their rebirth around bassist Todd Hunter in 2006. This gig was only announced a week prior to it taking place, and I relished the opportunity to cross another icon off my bucket list (just Split Enz to go now, please guys?). Then the icing on the cake was announced, in that the support would be Outside In, one of my very favourite bands from Auckland, but what would the audience think of a young progressive band playing songs they probably had not previously come across?

The doors opened at 7pm, and Outside In were on stage promptly at 7:30pm, playing a highly compacted six-song set. There was no announcement, they just went straight into Bridges, with Jonnie Barnard and Joe Park creating their signature twin-guitar soundscapes. The last time the band played was actually at the same venue when they supported City of Souls, but that night Joe was unable to perform so they had a stand-in guitarist who fitted in well but gave the sound a different vibe, but tonight they were back to full strength. In Adam Tobeck (drums) and Elliott Seung Il Park (bass, backing vocals) they have one of the strongest rhythm sections around, and tonight the sound balance was really good with Adam’s snare cutting through the wall of sound being created by the guitars, while Elliott was revelling on being given more space than normal and literally twisting himself in knots while playing complex runs on his five-string bass, then at the front is Mikey. Resplendent as normal in his blue dressing gown, which only lasted half the set due the heat in the venue, he is a wonderful front man who lives the music being performed, with a clear voice which rings through. He also utilises two microphones, one of which is clean and one with slight distortion, which allows him to provide some different dynamics.

Although the band were really delivering on the stage, it was obvious that the vast majority of the crowd were there to see the headline and were not too interested in what else was going on, talking through most of the first number. But as the sound continued to swell, and they continued to display just how tight a band they are, there is no doubt that people started to pay more attention. The talking gradually died away and while there only a few cheers to great the end of each song, there was at least appreciative applause. Tonight, The Garden of Light was one of the highlights, where Jonnie switched to seven-string which assisted in providing a very different feel. The guitars seem to fill all available sound so there would be no room for keyboards, yet there is also clear differentiation, and the use of space provides clarity and dynamics. It was obvious they were on a time limit tonight, and there was very little of the normal banter and talking as they pushed through the set. This was a real shame as it was not really a fair indication of how they normally perform, and I was disappointed they made the late decision to drop Mushrooms, but they finished  with a job well done, although it was somewhat of a surprise for them to walk outside and see it was still daylight.

The reason for Outside In finishing so early became apparent when Dragon came onstage before 8:30. I must confess it is a very long time since I saw a headline start their set at that time, but it made a pleasant change indeed. Although the Dragon of 2021 bears little resemblance to the one formed back in 1972, Todd Hunter is of course still there, and the line-up has stayed the same since he reformed the band in 2006, being joined by Mark Williams (vocals, guitar), Bruce Reid (guitar), and Pete Drummond (drums). Again, there was no announcement, they just walked onto the stage, picked up their instruments and said “hello”. Everyone’s attention was on Mark, who is a wonderfully gregarious and inviting frontman, and as soon as they kicked into Still In Love With You it was obvious this was going to be a singalong event. Dragon are a band who can perform for 90 minutes and just play hit after anthemic hit, and that was exactly what we were in for tonight. Todd may sit on a stool these days, but his bass playing is as dynamic as ever, while Bruce has a fine line in sharp riffs and hats, and then at the back is Pete. As well as being a fine drummer, Pete also provides an important vocal element to the band and while all the guys provide vocals, he also had solo spot later in the set.

There was no warming up the crowd, they were red hot from the start, and it just did not seem to matter what song was played, everyone knew all the words and was singing them as loud as they could. Speak No Evil, Dreams of Ordinary Men, they came and went with everyone having a blast, both on and off the stage. The four musicians have been playing these songs together for the best part of fifteen years, and there is a relaxation and confidence which comes with time spent onstage, and Mark was nailing all the vocals with ease, seemingly always with a massive smile on his face. The only time the set lulled for me was when Pete was given the opportunity for a reasonably lengthy drum solo. I had to wrack my brains to try and think of the last time I saw one, and it has to be at least 30 years, as while they were popular in the Seventies they have definitely gone out of fashion, for good reason. There is no doubt he is an amazing drummer, and the crowd certainly applauded everything he did, but just not for me.

This Time, Ramona, the hits just kept coming with the crowd reacting so strongly to what was being played that Mark just let them get on with it during Young Years. Mark also provided some solo numbers, accompanying himself with his acoustic, showing again just what a confident performer he is as he always had the crowd in the palm of his hand. The rest of the band came back for Sunshine, and then Bruce kicked off the riffs so many had been waiting for, and we were all singing April Sun In Cuba. From there it was another party romp through Celebration before they ended the set with Rain. I was somewhat surprised they hadn’t kept it back for the encore, but no-one was complaining as we all attempted to lift the roof off The Tuning Fork. Needless to say, that wasn’t the real end, so they came back and finally finished with Are You Old Enough, where Mark again let the crowd sing most of the words.

I have been missing out on Dragon for some years, and I am so pleased to have finally been able to catch them in concert, as they really know how to deliver and are guaranteed to provide a great night out.

 

Images © Steve Bone

View the Outside In gallery here

View the Dragon gallery here

Please do not crop or use any of these photos for other purposes without written permission by the photographer.

 

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
Buy Online @ Mightyape
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

Other Reviews By Kev Rowland

Oliver Birch - Album Review: Burning Daylight
05 Aug 2022 // by Kev Rowland
This is the debut album from Auckland musician, Oliver Birch, although older versions of many of the songs contained within have already been made available as singles. When the album started with the lengthy keyboard chords and feedback intro I thought it would fall into krautrock, but instead it quickly changed into a psychedelic experimental art rock number with emotionally charged vocals and an outright refusal to conform to any expectations.
Read More...
Album Review: Black Velvet Butterfly
03 Aug 2022 // by Kev Rowland
Black Velvet Butterfly are a one-man band from Auckland featuring James Castady-Kristament. I was intrigued to be sent this as when I looked on their Bandcamp page it said, “It may just well be the coolest thing you’ve heard in the Goth scene since Type O Negative.
Read More...
Bill Angus and the Mighty Ways - Album Review: All Night Before the World Began
01 Aug 2022 // by Kev Rowland
Bill had a musical career in England before deciding to do something different, and returned to his roots when he started working in New Zealand. This is his third album.
Read More...
Gig Review: Antagonist A.D. @ Galatos, Auckland - 30/07/2022
31 Jul 2022 // by Kev Rowland
Once more into the breach dear friends, as I made my way into the city for the third night in a row. I knew this was going to be the most dramatic gig of the week and was one I had been looking forward to for months.
Read More...
Gig Review: Reb Fountain @ Town Hall, Auckland - 29/07/2022
30 Jul 2022 // by Kev Rowland
Back into central Auckland for the second consecutive evening, this time to see an artist for whom I have great admiration for the first time, and whose latest album, Iris, was rightfully in my Top Ten of 2021. Until last month it had been years since I had been in Auckland Town Hall for a gig, but here I was again, this time for one of the series of Auckland Elemental events, and I could see lighting gantries across much of the venue so knew we were in for quite some night.
Read More...
Gig Review: Capital Theatre @ The Tuning Fork, Auckland - 28/07/2022
28 Jul 2022 // by Kev Rowland
Down to the Tuning Fork on a school night, whatever next?! Mind you, it was for a special occasion as Capital Theatre were back in town and it has been way too long since I last saw them play (thanks Covid).
Read More...
Infinity Ritual - EP Review: Infinity Ritual
28 Jul 2022 // by Kev Rowland
Here we have the debut EP from New Plymouth trio Adam Colless (guitars, vocals), Jason Karam (bass, vocals, mellotron) and Mark Thomas (drums and percussion). The four songs, 23 minutes in length, show a band who are bringing together groove metal with stoner, displaying plenty of bottom end with rich distortion.
Read More...
Sea Mouse - EP Review: Evil Heart
27 Jul 2022 // by Kev Rowland
There is a time in many music lover’s lives when they finally fall into the caress of the blues. Everyone has their own genre they prefer, but the best blues is that which really calls to the listener on an emotional level, and for me that means two very different strands, and my favourite depends on what I am feeling like on any particular day.
Read More...
View All Articles By Kev Rowland

NZ Top 10 Singles

  • DOJA
    Central Cee
  • I AIN'T WORRIED
    OneRepublic
  • BAD HABIT
    Steve Lacy
  • GLIMPSE OF US
    Joji
  • BIG CITY LIFE
    Luude And Mattafix
  • GO (GODDARD. REMIX)
    Cat Burns
  • RUNNING UP THAT HILL (A DEAL WITH GOD)
    Kate Bush
  • VEGAS
    Doja Cat
  • AS IT WAS
    Harry Styles
  • I LIKE YOU (A HAPPIER SONG)
    Post Malone And Doja Cat
View the Full NZ Top 40...
muzic.net.nz Logo
100% New Zealand Music
All content on this website is copyright to muzic.net.nz and other respective rights holders. Redistribution of any material presented here without permission is prohibited.
Report a ProblemReport A Problem