Greg Johnson – Q Theatre March 30, 2024 (Concert Review)

Greg Johnson closed out his 1000 Miles Tour at Auckland’s Q Theatre with two sets of songs that solidified the singer/songwriter’s place as one of New Zealand’s finest.

Johnson has been making music for over 30 years, first with the Greg Johnson Set and then solo, with his song Isabelle, from 1991 acting as something of a breakthrough for the Silver Scroll winning songwriter.

Greg JohnsonIsabell and the award-winning Liberty both made it into the career-spanning sets that also included fan favourites like Save Yourself and It’s Been So Long along with a few choice nuggets from Greg’s latest album, Thunder In The Fall.

It was a beautiful autumn evening both outside and inside the Q Theatre as longtime fans chatted over a glass of red before entering the venue where Johnson started the show solo, accompanying himself on keyboard for Handles Of Pearl and Pleasure And Overdose, two tunes from the first half of Greg’s career.

Ben KingThe band joined in for a lovely Rooster Tail, the first of three tunes from the new album. The band features guitarist Ben King, Wayne Bell on drums and Mark Hughes on bass.

Hughes’ mum was in the audience and got a shout-out from Johnson, as did several others who were celebrating weddings, birthdays or whatever…it was that kind of evening.

Even though Johnson has been based in California for some time now, this very much feels like a home-town gig.

With Easter Sunday just hours away, those hoping for a chocolate egg or two may have been disappointed but Greg did hand out a copy of his new CD to a lucky audience member down front.

Along with the songs comes Johnson’s unique stage banter…at first he seems to jump from one random topic to another, be it stage lighting, holograms, guitar tuning or a water shortage. Somehow it all makes sense as Greg connects with the audience in a random, seemingly spontaneous, stream-of-consciousness sort of way, making the show feel unscripted and relaxed.

Greg Johnson

Along with the band, Greg himself played keyboard, acoustic guitar and trumpet. And while he struggled to tune the guitar, at one point, muttering, “I hate guitars so much!”, his trumpet playing on tunes like 7th Deadly Sin, Tennessee Train and Remnants, was a joy to behold.

Greg Johnson and his band presented us with 18 beautifully crafted and performed songs over two sets. There was nothing flashy, no theatrics, nothing controversial about the show…just good, solid musianship on display, providing what turned out to be the perfect way to usher in Easter.

Marty Duda

Set 1:

  1. Handles Of Pearl
  2. Pleasure and Overdose
  3. Rooster Tail
  4. Looking Out On Monday
  5. Don’t Wait Another Day
  6. Tennessee Train
  7. Ballgowns and Smalltowns
  8. Save Yourself
  9. 7th Deadly Sin

Set 2:

  1. Grasslands
  2. Isabelle
  3. Remnants
  4. Now The Sun Is Out
  5. Mountain Lion
  6. Liberty
  7. It’s Been So Long
  8. The Next Trip Around The Sun
  9. If I Swagger