Concert Review: Greg Johnson – Powerstation July 9, 2021

Greg Johnson and his “Time Is A Traveller” Tour warmed up a chilly night in Auckland.

It may have been wintery outside, but inside The Powerstation the mood was warm and inviting, particularly as this first of two shows by Greg Johnson has been set up “cabaret style”.

No, they’ll be no crowd surfing tonight. Instead we have tables and chairs set up on the main floor for more civilized listening and wine sipping.

Friday night’s show was a sell-out, and why not? In addition to Greg Johnson and his band we were treated to a set by Dianne Swann who is still out there promoting her solo album, The War On Peace Of Mind.

Dianne SwannJust because we were seated, doesn’t mean things were mellow. Dianne and her band came out blasting with Reel You In, the first of seven songs they played, all from the new album.

I had seen Dianne and this same band (Brett Adams, Dave Khan, Ben King, Karin Canzek, Tom Broome) at The Wine Cellar in May. That show was unique in its intimacy, but this is where they really belong, able to turn up the amps and make some noise.

These Are The Days urged us to “get used to the new world” while the heavy guitars drove the point home.

Another stunning set from Dianne and Co.

Greg Johnson

Greg JohnsonIt wasn’t long before Greg Johnson and his crew took the stage for the first of two hour-long sets.

With the long-time rhythm section of drummer Wayne Bell and bassist Mark Hughes, Greg and the band took over with a ringing guitar intro and a sizzling version of Cut To The Chase from 2000’s Sea Breeze Motel.

Johnson has been making music for over 30 years now, with a new album, Tilt Your Interior (his first in 5 years) just released last month.

But long-time fans (and there were many here tonight) needn’t  worry as Greg touched on all phases of his career over the two hours he was on stage with plenty of stories to tell along the way.

There were old favourites (Don’t Wait Another Day, Save Yourself, Isabelle), fresh new tunes (Lemonade Stand, So Lucky, Cousins), tributes to fallen comrades (Ian Morris), guest appearances (Dianne Swann) and something of a reunion (former bandmate and ex-Blam Blam Blammer Mark Bell)

But best of all was Greg, himself. Clearly happy to be back on a stage after lockdown he played and sang beautifully and had plenty to talk about. There were stories about family, LA’s Suicide Girls, old times in Auckland (seeing Run/DMC, Radiohead and The Pogues at Powerstation) , the inevitable “what I did during lockdown” and, of course a bit of trumpet playing.

Highlights include I Got Opinions (greeted by squeals from an audience member in the front row, new song Lemonade Stand (nobody wants a revolution that fails) and a wonderful Tennessee Train featuring harmonies by Dianne.

It was closing in on midnight by the time this show was over, but no one was in a hurry to go home.

The (much demanded) encore included a full band version of Looking Out On Monday followed by a solo If I Swagger.

Currently based in California, Greg promised to return in March for more NZ dates.  Meanwhile, there’s another show tonight at The Powerstation with a handful of tickets just made available.  Grab a red wine (Greg recommends Church Road Cabernet Merlot) and treat yourself to an evening of exceptional music.

Marty Duda

Click here as limited tickets are available for tonight’s show at The Powerstation.

Click any icon to view a full-size gallery of Dianne Swann & Greg Johnson – photos from Chris Zwaagdyk.

Dianne Swann
Greg Johnson