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  • Andrew Fagan - Gig Review: Andrew Fagan and the Person @ Pigeon Racing Club, St Heliers Bay - 31/07/2021

Andrew Fagan - Gig Review: Andrew Fagan and the Person @ Pigeon Racing Club, St Heliers Bay - 31/07/2021

01 Aug 2021 // A review by Roger Bowie

Down on the St Heliers strip, just a stone’s throw away from the Village Hall captured in the late 70's by the punk rockers, there sits a little hole-in-the-wall bar which is also the HQ for the St Heliers Bay Pigeon Racing Club. Pigeon Racing is an ancient sport which carries on to this day. You take a bunch of pigeons 100 kilometres away and they race to get home. In this case they probably let them loose on Rangitoto and first back to the bar gets a beer. These types of pigeon are called Racing Homers, obviously enough, but there’s not many of these types in evidence at the bar tonight. Maybe they are wrapped up in their pyjamas and hanging upside down in the gloriously logoed van which sits outside. The other type of pigeon are the crafty ones, who fly in, make a deposit, mostly on the floor, but sometimes on some poor punter’s head, and do a flier without paying. They’re called stools, and there’s a few of them out in the carpark hovering for a bald one.

Whatever pigeon takes your fancy, it soon becomes clear that John and Teresa have made this up to avoid being tarnished as unoriginal by naming their bar simply “The Pigeon”. Warrants an investigation. Just ask John and Teresa.

The other thing is why is the van parked outside, obscuring a view of the splendiferous carpark which blocks access to the beach? Not just to keep the Racing Homers safe it would seem. There must be a tunnel under the beach which comes up just under the van, for how else can Poseidon get in without being mobbed by local screaming teenagers?

Because here he is, all scaly and glittery in silver lustre and swimming cap, a merman with legs and gumboots stomping about the small stage like Keith Moon, looking for threads and schooners, a legendary gigolo from the sea, named not Andrew but his brother Philip, just to keep us on our flippers.

But not for long, because once he puts on his crown and brandishes his trident we know we are in the presence of the great Fagan himself, gamely trying to play his old guitar in open tuning, the one with the L plate on the back and Moana’s fishhook from the sea, trying out Andrew’s first post Mockers single, You Do it Better, whoever you are. Except the old Merman can’t see the words on his monitor because his eyesight is fading and seeing a Merman on his knees is an interesting conundrum for the mythologists.

And the holy water. When I saw The Mockers last year in support of Midge Ure, he had the spray bottle, and I thought he was just taking the piss about the impending threat of Covid, and super sanitizing. But now I’m told its holy water, and of course Mermen need to hydrate when on land, otherwise the scales get crusty as well as the voice.

Enough of the fake Fagan trying to sing, let’s do poetry instead, and back Andrew takes me in time, almost 50 years, to Sam Hunt and Hone Tuwhare, both drunk as lords, entertaining us in the Otago Students Union Hall, even though On Channel Me is actually a song off Andrew’s latest album, where it appears at least 5 times, thereby being the song you always remember. Ditties about the ghetto of misfits (which might be us), and vertical shafts of rain, vials of mortal nectar, supping the chalice of insanity and sailing the other way. Do not dare cast aspersions on these fine pieces of work, you might trigger an episode of mental health. More things about LSD in Birmingham, sperm-combos and insta-sex and finally if you Act Normal, You’ll be Fine, as Andrew is joined on stage by The Person (the stage is too small to hold The People), and the person is none other than Darryn Harkness, a man of The People and New Telepathics and considerable musical pedigree, which hides away in his Queen St Studio safe from the critical eyes of the world. Did you know Loud Ghost released an album earlier this year. Look out for them touring soon (you heard it first on Muzic.net.nz). I digress, on comes The Person and adds guitar layers to the Fagan’s latest and oldest songs and we’re just fine.

Back we go, to Andrew’s days in England and his first solo album and his family life on a houseboat and Branch of the Tree, Jerusalem, with Fagan on Keith Richard air guitar, and a Bevis Frond (real name Nick Saloman) song, Now You Know. And then we are hearing from Andrew Fagan, night-watchman, on a tugboat to Pitcairn, passing the dark peaks of French Polynesia, and a poem called Night Islands.

Interplay with the audience, where are the threads? Oh, yes, that one time at Rongotai College and the young punk singing a song about the headmaster, McKay the (rhymes with banker), who does unspeakable sex things to his wife in the middle of the night, which if not speakable, is singable, if not hearable, especially with the noise of his punk band support. But Mr McKay the (rhymes with banker) can lip read, and it must be true, because the only punishment laid down is the fear of parental wrath, and away with it he gets.

And so we get it all, Fagan the showman, the shaman, the clown, the poet, the sailor, the Merman, the songwriter, the singer, the Mocker, Forever Tuesday Morning a Mocker, and One Black Friday a Mocker and Darryn Harkness on empathetic guitar and finally Act Normal, which is the last thing Andrew Fagan was born to do…….

Look it’s not perfect, it’s got rough edges, it stops and starts, and farts like a stool pigeon, but its upfront and intimate, and it’s good for a laugh, and in the spirit of nostalgic adulation it’s a bloody good night out at the Pigeon. Can’t wait for the next one……

Photo Credit: Kirk Vogel


About Andrew Fagan

Fagan was born in 1962 and grew up in Wellington. As well as being singer/songwriter for the local pop group The Mockers, he is also known as an accomplished solo ocean navigator and his obsession with the sea is evident in this collection of poems aptly titled 'Salt Rhythms'.

After living in London for some time, he has now returned to Auckland.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Andrew Fagan


Year: 1994
Type: Album

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