Tuesday, March 8, 2011


I went to Auckland on the weekend to meet up with Geoff and to go and see Roxy Music perform at Villa Maria winery. It was well worth it.

I liked Roxy Music in the early '70's. They had the combination of sophistication with a bit of an edge. The band and style of music preceded the New Romantic period by about 10 years and was a refreshing alternative to the (very good) R&B and rock music that was prevalent in 1972 and thereabouts. I had seen Brian Ferry perform a couple of years ago and, while still pretty good was overshadowed by Joan Armitrading who shared the bill. Geoff convinced me to go to the Roxy Music show because the original band members (drummer, guitarist and saxophonist) were going to be there. I'm glad that I did. The show was pretty good. The performances were just as I remember from the early albums and time and experience have only improved the musicianship of Andy Mackay (saxophone) and Phil Manzanera (guitar). New additions to the band (saxophonist and percussionist, keyboards and guitar) underscored the original artists and helped not hindered. The only downside was a pre-recorded film sequence that overrode the big screen images of the band. I would rather have seen the band members rather than the film sequences (especially the nubile dancers at the back of the stage. Sue (of RBB) would call me a creep for saying that but hey - I'm male OK?).
The early acts were Nathan Hayes and his band including his brother on guitar and then Don McGlashan. Both were superb and demonstrate what talent we have in New Zealand. On one of McGlasan's extended numbers Haines joined in on saxophone and it was magic. The setting was Villa Maria's Mangere winery and vineyards. There is a natural bowl formed by a volcanic crater where they set up a big sound stage.

We sat on the grass bank under some trees (it had been raining heavily on Saturday and early Sunday so bad weather was threatening). Fortunately the rain held off even though it got a bit cold. I was dressed in my Northland gear - shorts and Hawaiian shirt - but being a bloke wouldn't admit I was a bit cold and getting inquisitive stares from wimpy Aucklanders who were kitted out in jackets and hats.
Roxy started out a bit limp but three songs in played a stunning rendition of If There Is Something  from their first album which was a great vehicle for McKay and Manzanera to do their magic. For the next couple of hours we were treated to some Roxy Music classics and good Brian Ferry cover versions (Jealous Guy, Like a Hurricane) that were better than the recorded versions. Later they played some of the dance hits from later albums which got the women up dancing.

This didn't bother me for a change as, being on a sloping bank the inconsiderate tarts didn't obscure my view. The audience age spread was fifties, forties and thirties. There didn't seem to be many young ones. Roxy Music relaesed their early stuff in the very early 70's, disbanded, rejoined and progressively released stuff in the late '70's and '80's all up over a 15 year period. This was shown in the audience demographic.

Being a concert at a winery the wine offering was good. They sold White label, Cellar Selection and Reserve wines. We opted for a bottle of Reserve Marlborough Pinot Noir 2009 and a bottle of Reserve Marlborough Chardonnay 2007 (we came by bus) and these were as you would expect, very good. The Chardonnay was still very much alive with a great balance of fruit, wood and nice leesy character. The Pinot Noir was a fruit bomb that needs time but was just the thing to drink as it was darkening and becoming colder. It was a great night out catching up with an old friend.

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