Dragon – Auckland Town Hall: April 27, 2024 (Concert Review)

Dragon brought their 50th Anniversary Tour to Auckland’s Town Hall and The 13th Floor’s Karen McCarthy was their to revel in the nostalgia while photographer Chris Zwaagdyk put his camera to good use.

Are you old enough?
Are you old enough?
Are you old enough? Ooh, ooh
Are you old enough for love?

Aaah, the memories…

Take me to the April sun in Cuba (whoa-oh-oh)
Take me where the April sun gonna treat me so right
So right

DragonNo sun this April night, but oh, we were treated so right, alright …

The faithful packed out Auckland’s Town Hall Saturday night as  ‘Dragon’ capped off a two-week nationwide tour in sensational form.

It’s a happening thing
And it’s happening to you
Full moon and thunder
Ribbons of blue

Never have I seen so many ‘older’ punters at the Town Hall NOT there for an NZSO performance.

But the years melted away as the Antipodean rock legends kicked off the last night of their 50th anniversary tour.

Yeah .. you read that right … 50 years.

Time goes and here we stand
Laughing at the sideshow, sinking in the quick sand

Adored frontman and swaggering singer Marc Hunter long-gone, R.I.P.

It’s been ‘70s pop sensation and veteran vocalist Mark Williams out front for the past nearly 20 years  –  belting out hit after hit tonight, working the crowd.

DragonHe’s still got the moves and the grooves, his voice filled with heart and passion and power. Impressive.

As was the whole band – drummer Pete Drummond, a machine, holding it down all night long, while seemingly  barely breaking a sweat.

Guitar ace ‘Brucie’ Reid – dressed for comfort in cotton short-sleeved shirt and a straw boater, but shredding his instrument with multiple solos.

And of course, special mention and mana to Todd Hunter  –  a man in black this evening, the only original band-member. At the very heart of Dragon. One of Taumauranui’s favourite sons stays mostly seated throughout this evening, low-level and lowkey, letting his trusty bass do all the talking.

The whole band are firing on all cylinders, a show which belies their collective age, which must be …. um.,well .. Todd is 72 for starters ….

Let’s not go there… Because ya know, it really didn’t matter one little bit on Saturday night.

It don’t matter what you do
I’m still in love with you
It don’t matter what they say
You can have me anyway

Fans crammed the floor shoulder-to-shoulder, tripping down memory lane, singing along with unbidden and unbounded enthusiasm to some of the most iconic, beloved Down Under rock classics. Dancing in the aisles, up in the circle,  at the balcony’s edge, even in the back row of The Gods.

Stuck downtown in a local bar
Drinking rum and smoking tar

Dragon are a band that five decades on are testament to the power of a great song. They have so many.


Songs that still sound fresh and dynamic, danceable and meaningful. Driving rhythm. Funky swagger.

Soaring 70s and 80s rock anthems with universal, timeless themes.

It’s why we’re all still singing along.

Remembering it. Feeling it.

And the four-piece delivered. In spades. Brought to mind The Black Crowes more than once – another 70s-inspired hard-rocking combo featuring brothers, Chris and Rich Robinson.

Tight, tight band. Not just going through the motions. Digging deep.  Drummer Pete’s phenomenal extended drum solo and stick-work brings hollers and hoots of genuine appreciation.

Among the highlights ..

1983’s Rain  –  synth-rock, irresistibly danceable, unmistakably 80s, the time of mullets and long leather jackets. Featuring Todd Hunter’s leading bass line, crashing drums, epic chorus.

1976’s This Time –  Todd’s white platform boats long gone, but taking us right back to the glam rock phase … the skinny, long haired rockers, early music video era, the Hunter brothers and co reveling in the Bowie strut and swagger, Marc at his rabble-rousing campest.

1978’s Still In Love – another national anthem. Another fantastic driving, hook-laden sing-along single.

Dragon1978’s Are You Old Enough – yet another classic .. the group’s first number one single. Questionable in later years to some who couldn’t see it as the irresistible pop song it was, and still is. As one Aussie scribe put it at the time of the controversy, a “virtually flawless pop record, it’s subversive nature an essential element of this status.”

1977’s April Sun In Cuba – what to say? An Aussie/New Zealand  pub anthem then, and now. A song that captured lightning in a bottle. In a slew of hits for Dragon, this one was next-level.  The song that gets the fans getting their cellphones out. Yeah, even the oldies.

1989’s Young Years is Cheap Trick-esque, Springsteen-like. That good.

 Too many others to mention. But to see and hear just one of the above played live was worth the price of admission.

“It’s the last night of a magnificent tour” a beaming and clearly moved Mark Williams tells the heaving crowd. “I wish it could go on for ever.”

Looking back to the mid- 1970s when he first burst onto the scene, he recalls “I was young and dumb. Still made it through though. We do, don’t we…?”

DragonWe do, if we’re lucky.

And on Saturday night, a packed-out Town Hall remembered and reveled, as the Dragon roared and soared …

Thanks guys.

Back in our young years.

Sometimes the good do not die young.

Now we live on memories alone.

Those were our young years.

Karen McCarthy

Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Chris Zwaagdyk


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