It seemed like such a natural thing, you have to wonder why it hadn’t happened before. Two of New Zealand’s most accomplished songwriters sharing the stage and their songs. Dave Dobbyn and Don McGlashan each have an incredible legacy of songs that are uniquely “New Zealand”. Those songs seemed to strike even more resonance when played in the beautiful surroundings of Parnell’s Holy Trinity Cathedral in front of a highly-appreciative audience.
There was no opening act, just two men, now in their 50s, sitting on the stage cradling their instruments. The dynamic duo of Dave and Don began the evening with Dobbyn’s Beside You. Dave was in fine voice and Don chimed in on harmony vocals. They sounded as though they’d been singing together for years.
Next came a gem from McGlashan’s years with The Front Lawn. Andy is a heart-breaking tribute to a brother and the two veteran musicians did the song proud.
For the most part, that how the evening went, the two songwriters alternating between each other…Dobbyn would sing Belltower and then McGlashan would offer up Queen Of The Night. But there was no sense of competition, but rather a mutual respect for each other’s craft.
In fact, according to what they said on stage, many of Don’s songs were selected by Dave and vice-versa. This may explain why the evening didn’t become a greatest hits-type show. Each songwriter brought out plenty of less-known tunes. Dobbyn even came up with a new tune…Up Above The Rain…while McGlashan dug into his wonderful 2006 solo album, Warm Hand, for three songs.
They then proceeded with the brooding White Valiant, taken from the first Muttonbirds album, with Dobbyn adding some atmospheric slide guitar.
After Dave’s contribution to the 2000 James K. Baxter tribute album, Song Of The Year, the band took a break.
All four returned twenty minutes later with a little gem from Dobbyn’s 1998 album, The Islander, Blindman’s Bend. McGlashan answered with a delightfully jangly version of While You Sleep another hidden gem from The Muttonbirds’ Envy Of Angels.
The hits started coming soon after, with Dave leading the charge with Whaling. The crowded responded with a hearty ovation at the end. From there it was one after another…Harbour Bridge, Loyal, Anchor Me, Language, Dominion Road…all classics.
Loyal proved most interesting as Dobbyn had spent a good part of the past week standing by to play the song in anticipation of the winning of a certain cup. With that moment never coming the performance of Loyal was certainly a bittersweet affair, with the anthem turning out to be more of a requiem.
The two men closed out the night with a couple of Dobbyn’s most beloved tunes. Welcome Home struck a chord…especially with non-Kiwis like myself…making me realize how fortunate I am to be living in New Zealand where I can hear these wonderful songs, because, let’s face it, Lorde excepted, there aren’t many Kiwi hits being played on American radio.
We all finished the night with a sing-along to Slice Of Heaven…which seemed wholly appropriate considering the venue.
I could bring up some minor issues…the sound was a bit echo-y and the set list might have been more balanced and it might have been nice to have had Dave sing a verse or two of Don’s songs and vice versa…but overall it was a wonderful evening and I hope they do it again.
A note: Radio New Zealand was there to record the event…how about a live album, guys?
Click on any image to view a photo gallery of concert shots taken by The 13th Floor’s Veronica McLaughlin:
Dave Dobbyn & Don McGlashan set list:
- Beside You
- Queen Of The Night
- Up Above The Rain
- Last Year’s Shoes
- It Dawned On Me
- White Valiant
- Song Of The Year
- Blindman’s Bend
- While You Sleep
- Kingdom Come
- Toy Factory Fire
- Harbour Bridge
- Maybe The Rain
- Anchor Me
- Dominion Road
- Welcome Home
- Slice Of Heaven
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