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Gig Review: The Best of Come Together @ The Civic Theatre, Auckland - 9/12/2023

12 Dec 2023 // A review by roger.bowie

Get your heads around this line-up: 

The singers: Jon Toogood, (lead and backing vocals), Julia Deans (lead and backing vocals), Dianne Swann (lead and backing vocals and occasional guitar), Samuel Flynn Scott (vocals and guitar), James Milne (lead and backing vocals), Milan Borich (Mick vocals)

The players: Jol Mulholland (guitars and vocals), Brett Adams (lead guitar and vocals), Mike Hall (bass), Matthias Jordan (keyboards), Alastair Deverick (drums), Finn Scholes (trumpet, clarinet and percussion), Nick Atkinson (sax and percussion). 

Stopped spinning? This is without doubt the finest ensemble of New Zealand rock royalty you could imagine, and they all Come Together to take us back to our teen-fan days, especially the teenage me listening to Abbey Road and Let It Bleed back in 1969 and the nearly teen me having sympathy for the devil in 1967.

Over the past 2-3 years, Liberty Stage have brought the classic albums to us, and have built up a huge fanbase of nostalgic and new rockers, loving to hear the bangers and the belters and the other songs which were just great and still are. And here we are, sold out at the Civic, to hear the best of.

What? How much blood fell on the floor in trying to sort out the set list for this one?

Ok, this is no covers band. This is a band of disciples and zealots on a quest to the holy grail, these guys just take these songs over because they are now their own, adopted, the soundtracks of their own youth, and not a single one of them would have imagined doing this 30 years ago. 

A singular recipe, as Funeral For A Friend emerges from a dirge to a rocking anthem, immaculate, no, perfect, no…..better than the original, because that’s the bar that has been set. Just the band to begin, as Matthias leads the segue into Love Lies Bleeding. We are love, we are bleeding, we are transported. 

The set list tells the story but doesn’t describe the mastery and finery and occasional ferocity of Brett Adams’ guitar, with Jol Mulholland and Sam Scott adding versions of the same truth. Like Brett, then Jol, cutting loose around Dianne’s’ vocal on Cowgirl in the Sand, sensibly shortened from the originals 9 minutes plus. Like Jon taking on the first of two Beatles rockers from the White Album, Back in the USSR, with Julia doing the other one later Helter Skelter. Like the passion and grief that Brett brings to Tom Petty’s It’s Good to be King. Like Diane and Julia easing us soothingly through our Dreams. Like Jon and Julia the perfect match for Mick and Merry/Lisa on Gimme Shelter. And Lawrence of Arabia meets Merry Xmas Mr Lawrence on the Bowie songs. It’s all very special. 

But for me the highlight is Sam Scott doing Abbey Road. The entire side 2 (minus Here Comes The Sun)  which fans will know is a mash up of 10 songs which flow together seamlessly thanks to George Martin, in a frenzy of output which signaled the end of the era, as The Beatles exhausted their minds and their bodies in one last recording session at Abbey Road in 1969 (Let It Be was released later but recorded earlier). This sequence of music is simply amazing, but it was George Martin, not the Beatles, who put it together. In those days it was unplayable live. There simply wasn’t the technology and The Beatles couldn’t play live also because they couldn’t hear themselves. But Come Together can. And if there is the occasional hint of vulnerability and hesitancy in this sequence, it only serves to reinforce the challenge. Simply magnificent is all I can say. 

Dire Straits, Fleetwood Mac, Tom Petty, Elton John, The Beatles and the Stones. We’re all Heroes in the encore, but We Can’t Always Get What We Want even though we want more. 

But, in The End, the love you get is equal to the love you give. Paul McCartney said that.

The Best of Come Together might leave us wanting more, but there is only so much ecstasy we can handle in one night. I said that.

Set List:

1. Funeral For a Friend
2. 
Love Lies Bleeding (Matthias)
3. 
Back in the USSR (Jon)
4. 
Dreams (Dianne and Sam)
5. 
The Chain (James, Julia, Dianne)
6. 
It’s Good To Be King (Brett)
7. 
Powderfinger (Sam)
8. 
Cowgirl In The Sand (Dianne)
9. 
Goodbye Yellow Brick Road (Julia)

10. 
Abbey Road, Side 2 (Sam):
a. 
Because
b. 
You Never Give Me Your Money
c. 
Sun King
d. 
Mean Mr Mustard
e. 
Polythene Pam
f. 
She Came In through The Bathroom Window
g. 
Golden Slumbers
h. Carry That Weight
i. 
The End
j. 
Her Majesty

11. Telegraph Road (Jol)
12. 
Tunnel of Love (Jon)
13. 
Edge of Seventeen (Julia and Dianne)
14. 
Wild Horses (Milan)
15. 
American Girl (Dianne)
16. 
Refugee (Jon)
17. 
Life on Mars (Milan and Julia)
18. 
Moonage Daydream (James)
19. 
Helter Skelter (Julia)
20. 
Sympathy For The Devil (Milan)
21. 
Gimme Shelter (Julia and Jon)
22. 
Like a Hurricane (Brett)
23. 
Heroes (James)
24. 
You Can’t Always Get Want You Want (Jon)

Photo Credit: Ivan Karczeski / Kioui Pix
View the full gallery here

 

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