Pluto kicked of their ‘Maybe Twice’ NZ tour in front of a packed house at Auckland’s Wine Cellar and what a joy it was to be there.
Maybe Twice is the title of the long-running, Tui-winning Kiwi band’s new single, a psychedelic slice of alt-rock that kicked off the quintet’s set.
But before we get into that, let’s tip our collective hats to opener Jol Mulholland who performed an emotional opening solo set. Jol’s been busy as a bandleader and musical director for the Come Together concerts and it was clear he was very happy to have the chance to play his own songs for a change.
The former Mot and Gasoline Cowboy (and occasional Pluto producer) connected quickly with the growing crowd, paying tribute to his brothers and dissertating on U2.
“I loved every moment” he said as he cleared the stage.
So did we.
Pluto have had one of those up/down careers. The line-up has remained stable since they formed in 2001. They’ve released four acclaimed albums with 2005’s Pipeline Under The Ocean going double platinum and its song, Dance Stamina, winning a Tui in 2006.
But they’ve had their trials and tribulations…losing an entire album for about 10 years and splitting up due to the usual “creative differences”.
But here they are: Milan Borich front and centre with bass player Mike Hall on his left and guitarist Tom Arnold on his right. Then there’s Matthias Jordan behind the keys and drummer Michael Franklin-Brown tucked away in the corner.
Why a band like Pluto is playing in such a tiny venue as the Wine Cellar is a mystery, but I’m guessing every one of the 100 or so fans who got in are very happy to be here.
The band is on just after 9:30 and the room is packed, but comfortably so. The band sounds tight by loose (if that makes any sense) as they go from Maybe Twice to Oh My Lonely, a single from the fourth album produced by Mr. Mulholland who that band calls “one of the greats” as they thank us for venturing out on a Thursday.
A crackling guitar cable gives Milan some grief but he plugs in and we get to hear Suzie, also from the latest album.
“Anybody bought the 4th record?” queries Mike Hall, reminding all and sundry that there are copies for sale at the merch table.
The set gains momentum with crowd favourite Long White Cross and Warren Zevon cover, Carmelita (a personal fave here).
Some off the on-stage banter from both Milan and Mike seems disjointed, but that adds to the charm of the evening.
After Hey Little, Mike comments that, “He’s real big now!” Milan responds, “The river never flows higher than the source”.
And so it goes.
Hey Sista gets the place thumping and Radio Crimes closes the set, but only briefly as the buff Milan loses his shirt and the crowd cheers to the opening strains of Dance Stamina (or was it Milan’s torso they were cheering?)
Joy Division’s Transmission is the final song, beautifully performed by a band that, twenty-plus years after forming, sounds like they are a the peak of their powers.
Click on any image to view a photo gallery by Chris Zwaagdyk
Pluto set list:
- Maybe Twice
- Oh My Lonely
- Waiting Watching
- After Winter
- Long White Cross
- Stick With It
- Lonely Fall
- Baby Cruel
- She’s Jive
- Hey Little
- Hey Sista
- Radio Crimes
- Dance Stamina
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