The seventh season of the Winery Tour got off to a start Saturday night at Matakana’s Ascension Winery. Fat Freddy’s Drop, Anika, Boh & Hollie and The Adults, along with late addition Clara van Wel kicked off the first of 17 dates in front of a sold-out crowd of 3000 music and wine aficionados. In other words, a big crowd who mostly wanted to get drunk and have a dance.
So far, every outdoor show I’ve seen this season has had perfect weather, and this one was no exception. Organizers opened the doors at about 4:30, so the fans could settle in, queue for wine and food, before Clara van Wal took the stage at 5:30.
15-year-old Clara was the winner of New Zealand’s Got Talent and is in the process of recording her first album. She came on stage toting a large guitar and proceeded to spend several minutes tuning it. You’d think someone would have helped her out and done this for her before she was due on stage…not a good look.
More tuning took place after the first song, as a roadie came out to give her a hand. “”I can’t dance so I’ll just have to stand here awkwardly”, she quipped. The teenage played for about 25 minutes. Her brief set included her single Where Do You Find Love. Despite the technical glitches, she held up well. Hopefully she’ll get more support as the tour rolls on.
The Adults arrived promptly at 6pm. Jon Toogood, Shayne Carter, Julia Deans and drummer Steve Bremner began their part of the show with the seductively dark Long Way Off. Toogood obviously enjoys fronting the group and provided plenty of entertaining banter. Meanwhile Carter played some excellent guitar, particularly on Nothing To Lose, the epic set closer.
After a 25-minute break, Anika Moa, Boh Runga and Hollie Smith came on, accompanied by a four-piece band that included guitarist Joel Mulholland. The trio’s new album, Peace Of Mind was just released the day before and they stared things with a stirring version of Be Mine.
“We’re pretty choice”, noted a very enthusiastic Anika Moa. And she was right. They sounded very good together.
“We’re like New Zealand’s answer to The Spice Girls”, she said, with Boh then claiming to be “Asian Spice”.
The three women mixed a few of their own tunes among the songs from Peace Of Mind. Anika sang Dreams In My Head and Running Through The Fire while Boh sang Stellar’s hit Part Of Me. It was Hollie who brought the house down with her very passionate version of Don McGlashan’s Bathe In The River.
The set seemed over way too soon, and I would have like to have heard quite a bit more from them. The new songs sounded excellent and it’s clear they are having fun on stage with each other. At one point Hollie planted a big kiss on Anika. Perhaps after the Winery Tour they will headline their own shows.
Fat Freddy’s has never been my Drop of choice, so I have minimal expectations from their set. But even with that attitude I was disappointed.
By the time the seven-piece band arrived, the crowd was well-oiled and ready to party. MC Slave (aka Mark Williams) did his best to generate some excitement. but the group began with a new tune, Blackbird, that stretched out for 10 minutes. While the songs featured a groovy trombone solo, most of it consisted of a languid reggae beat that just laid there.
The fact that there is no live drummer in the band only adds to the uninspired vibe. Singer Dallas Tamaira could be seen dialling in the beats on his little keypad before each song.
The three-piece horn section did sound fantastic and MC Slave returned for Roady, introducing Ladi 6, who had appeared on the original version back in 2005.
But then it was another new song. They lyrics were banal…”doin’ it fine, tastin’ that wine”, while the audience desperately stood waiting for something to dance to.
Of course there were those who were determined to have a good time no matter what, and then further back in the crowd, folks were drinking and conversing with the music pumping away in the background…something like an oversized backyard barbeque.
After a few more songs that urged listeners to “keep on trying, keep on reaching and keep your feet on the ground” I was ready to go.
I stayed for just over an hour of Fat Freddy’s Drop’s 90 minute set, but their listless playing got the better of me and I made an early exit to avoid traffic.
Maybe they suddenly sprang to life over the next 30 minutes, but that seemed unlikely. Too bad the headlining spot wasn’t filled by Anika, Boh and Hollie, with a longer stint by The Adults. I guess two out of three ain’t bad.
Click on a picture to view the 13th Floor photo gallery:
The Adults set list:
- Long Way Off
- One Million Ways
- Most Important
- Everyday I Wake Up
- Up And Gone
- Anniversary Day
- Short Change
- Nothing To Lose
Anika, Boh & Hollie’s set list:
- Be Mine
- Why Don’t We
- Dreams In My Head
- Beside You
- Part Of Me
- Don’t Really Care
- Peace Of Mind
- Running Through The Fire
- Over And Over
- Bathe In The River