NZ Music Month launches in magical style

Those you who didn’t go to the New Zealand Music Month launch last night missed a treat. It was held in the atrium of the CPIT’s Rakaia Centre, a nice open space, with the performers playing against an impressive stained glass wall, making it a visual as well as an acoustic experience.

With a 5.30pm start the organisers thoughtfully supplied delicious free finger food and inexpensive drinks, so it was dinner as well as entertainment.

The beginning was a surprise. A sixty strong choir amassed along the first floor balcony and began to sing unannounced. The cathedral-like acoustics of the atrium created a fantastic sound –  Anika Moa said it nearly moved her to tears and I thought it created a magical start to the evening.

They were followed by Christchurch-based singer/songwriter Nadia Reid and her small band. The acoustics didn’t cope with the volume of the electric instruments and I couldn’t hear her acclaimed vocal strength, but their performance was nevertheless impressive.

When Hanna Harding, a small figure dress in black and red, hit the stage with her accompanying guitarist, she immediately took the attention of the audience. She started with a stunning rendition of Roy Orbison’s Crying, which suited her powerful and agile voice to a T, then moved on to some toe tapping original work accompanied by some very impressive guitar playing.

Anika Moa was the consummate professional, starting quietly, working the crowd and building up to a rousing finale in which she inveigled her obviously unprepared fellow performers into providing a backing group and vocals – they rose to the challenge with a bit of direction and calls of more could be heard at the end.

The audience were loud in their appreciation of all the performers and it was a fun couple of hours.

Christchurch music videos: Anything could happen – The Clean

Rubbish dump. Derelict building. Cemetery. Check. TVNZ’s Andrew Shaw travelled south to Christchurch to direct this one, but he kept the clip faithful to the band’s style for this now iconic tribute to indie nihilism.

Anything Could Happen


Search our catalogue for music by The Clean.

Find out more about  NZ Music Month at Christchurch City Libraries.

We need to talk about …

No, not Kevin this time, but … the homeless. I think it all started for me with the Christchurch quakes raising our levels of anxiety about our homes, the having or not having of them, that is.

Around about quake time I stumbled on William Boyd’s novel Ordinary Thunderstorms, in which the main character – someone just like you or me – ends up living rough in London.  Ever since then, the homeless have slowly but surely insinuated their way into my very living room.

And there is no escape, because the subject of homelessness has really hit its straps at this year’s Auckland Writers and Readers Festival 2012 where book after book has the homeless jumping off the page at me.

In Dark Night: Walking with McCahon, author Martin Edmond – in an attempt to better understand McCahon’s Sydney walkabout – goes homeless for one night in Sydney. It is amazing how compelling it is to read his account of this. You can’t help but wonder how you would cope with a life lived out of a supermarket trolley.

Charlotte Wood also incorporates the homeless into her excellent novel Animal People. Pet owner Nerida is described as someone who would:

feed a stray cat or fret if Balzac had a cough, but the homeless were as intolerable as vermin.

In Snowdrops by A.D Miller, the homeless have a spectacularly bad deal. Not only is Russia a freezing cold country in which to have no front door to close, but homeless people are often murdered and lie under piles of snow all winter only to emerge like snowdrops  in the Spring thaw.

Only Kathy Lette, in The Boy Who Fell to Earth, doesn’t flirt with the topic. But if she had, I bet she’d have made it laugh-out-loud funny.

It is a subject that seems to be in the air right now. So I wasn’t the slightest bit taken aback to open  The Press  the other day and read of a pensioner who is going to sleep in her car for a week in a show of solidarity with all the Christchurch people who have no homes right now.

It could all be quite depressing – being homeless or feeling homeless. But as a Chinese proverb so succinctly put it:

You cannot prevent the birds of sadness from flying over your head, but you can prevent them from nesting in your hair!

My NZ Music Month performance pick

New Zealand Music Month is upon us again and I have been happily perusing the great array of musical offerings we’ve lined up around the library network. Last year I was lucky enough to be working at Lyttelton Library when Carmel Courtney sang to us on a cold and rainy Saturday. Her performance made a wintry workday morning magical, and I’m delighted to see she’s not only singing again this year at Lyttelton Library on Saturday 19 May but also at my current library, Central Library Peterborough, on Saturday 5 May.

Carmel is a Lyttelton-based singer-songwriter whose lyrical music combines jazz and Latin influences with an alternative vibe. She accompanies herself on guitar, keyboard and saxophone. I’m looking forward to another memorable performance.

What are you looking forward to this Music Month at your library?