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Stretch - Gig Review: Stretch @ Common Room, Hastings - 27/04/2022

28 Apr 2023 // A review by Rob Harbers

In honour of his turangawaewae, Stretch is playing 3 nights running across the battered, but resolute, province of Hawkes Bay, from Napier in the north to the very southern tip, his original hometown of Dannevirke. This set of shows carries the moniker of 'My Heart, My Home' - a reflection of their ethos, which is to seek to bring a small degree of healing to this traumatised area. The opening night of the series took place at what is, in many ways, his second home - Hastings’ iconic Common Room, and promises much for the remainder of the trio!

In the selection of his opening act, the hugely promising Molly Pawson, Stretch has continued a tradition of supporting those on their way up. This young singer/songwriter has a very bright future to look forward to, if this appearance is anything to go by (that, and the fickle nature of audiences and algorithms). During her short set of six songs, of which 4 were originals, she played and sang with a skill and delicacy belying her tender years, all 17 of them. Her original material carried echoes, in the best way, of others who have gone before, with melodies sparking memories of some of the classics of the genre, many of which would be at least 2 or 3 times older than her! This ability to tap into, and build on, such a legacy is perhaps best illustrated and illuminated by her choice of cover material -The Smiths’ Please Please Please Let Me Get What I Want, and John Lennon’s Ballad of John and Yoko - neither of them exactly what one might expect a 17-year old to even know, let alone sing! All of which goes together to show her to be definitely one to watch!

After such a set-up, it fell to Stretch and his band (Andrew Gladstone-drums, Campbell Burns-guitar, and Paula Sugden-Cyril the 300-odd year old cello) to continue the momentum, and this they did in fine style with the dramatic and dynamic I Know You’ve Been Bad. The raw emotional content and complex instrumental interplay of this, one of the centrepieces of the second album Our Dreams Are Changing, set the tone for what followed-a night of both celebration and commiseration, a tribute to the resilience of the human spirit, rising from the silt and the stench and the shit of Gabrielle (the house guest no-one wanted!).

Less Rock, More Roll continued the tempo, before Here Come The Starlings signalled a shift in to more reflective territory, its subtle tonings giving Paula a chance to shine. This mood continued through to Not Saying Goodbye, delivered with an emotional punch displaying the depth and weight of the lived experience conveyed in the lyrics.

An up-tempo feel was restored with Hold Fast, Hold True, with added bounce and joie de vivre courtesy of Andrew. In the same vein was Shoal Bay Song, written in a coastal setting in a spirit of celebration of turangawaewae (that word again!) in its broadest sense-that of feeling grounded in one’s place. Following such enthusiastic celebration of place, it was back to the more subtle expressions, Lonely Star featuring Campbell’s subtle shadings, and a soulful outburst of (controlled and crafted) noise, expressive of the emotions behind it. A languid run-through of Sorrow (the one made famous by Bowie) lead in to main set closer Six Tears, featuring an extended solo by Paula that was jaw-dropping in its intensity and expression.

The encore commenced with The Turning, this slightly idiosyncratic, and finely nuanced number displaying further development as it ages (it’s nearly 3 years old by now!), leading in to a powerful performance of Walk On Water, before bringing it all back around to the sense of place and community, with a rendition of Tutere Mai Nga Iwi - the singalong opportunity we didn’t know we were missing!

And then, having blazed in to the gathered souls, it was all over, but ready for more on the next two nights. A powerful return to the performance arena for this local hero, and definitely worthy of catching if you can. Playing in Napier at F.G. Smith on the 28th, and Dannevirke in the Founders Theatre on the 29th - get in there!

Photo Credit: Chris Kiely Photography
View the full gallery here


About Stretch

"Stretch totally captivated, the voice beautiful and soulful. Immediately the place lit up, we finished on our feet, a crowd desperate for more" - BayBuzz

Stretch has a passion in his performance that sets shows alight. From dark-hearted ballads to roof-raising choruses, his songs are a bittersweet blend of Folk, Soul and Rock ’n’ Roll.

Visit the muzic.net.nz Profile for Stretch


Our Dreams Are Changing
Year: 2020
Type: Album
Bury All Horses
Year: 2017
Type: Album
Buy Online @ Mightyape
Depot Demos
Year: 2015
Type: EP

Other Reviews By Rob Harbers

Gig Review: The Bravo Uniform Mikes w/ Cherry Punch @ Paisley Stage, Napier - 26/05/2023
29 May 2023 // by Rob Harbers
In a venture threatening the eardrums of all those who come near, the ever-so-subtly named Bravo Uniform Mikes have paired up with Cherry Punch for the Bum Punch tour across Te-Ika-a Maui. Kicking off at Napier’s coolest little venue (tm), Paisley Stage, this pairing gave a powerful demonstration of the treats in store for those who make the effort to catch them on the remaining dates.
View All Articles By Rob Harbers

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