(Press release by Frank Sargeson)
One of New Zealand’s foremost songsters, Lawrence Arabia, with his modern pops quartet, is delighted to announce a fairly extensive tour of the former British Dominion of New Zealand, these fertile South Pacific isles whose agricultural products grace the dinner tables of subjects all around the Empire.
Starting in the nation’s burgeoning viticultural heartland of Napier, where local winemakers have been making medium white wines for a number of years now, vintages which may not approach the wines of France in quality, but provide a passable alternative to beer for our country’s housewives, the tour continues on via our harbourside capital, Wellington, to the beautiful river city of Petre (or as it is more authentically known these days, Wanganui, in the native Maori language).
Onwards, this festive musical variety show will travel across the turbulent Cook Strait to the Mainland, plunging southwards to the historical goldrush hinterlands of Otago, through that most English of cities, Christchurch, to Oamaru and Port Chalmers, and onto the tiny, humble, mountain village of Wanaka.
Bisecting the Gates of Haast and skirting Westland’s cathedrals of ice, the chipper gang with their fine and true harmonies will proceed to Barrytown, located near the iconic pancake rocks of Punakaiki, where the fierce Tasman Sea is propelled at pressure through holes eroded in sedimentary coastal rock, creating a dramatic natural phenomenon known as a blowhole, these fine examples of which have attracted visitors from as far afield as Australia and the United States of America.
Via Takaka in the majestic and remote Golden Bay, Lawrence Arabia and his chums return to the sub-tropical north, with evening concerts in Raglan, Leigh, and the sophisticated and sprawling Auckland, the largest city in New Zealand, which boasts a number of New York-style skyscrapers topping fifteen storeys.
Come celebrate the existence of this most varied of lands, and this most varied catalogue of songs, at a concert engagement near you.
Roger Hall’s new production, “Shush Your Bush,” has opened in Christchurch to raves from the assembled media and invited audience. Staged at Addington’s Court Theatre, the play was described by one theatre-goer as a “saucy romp,” while Mayor Bob Parker quipped that it was “closer to the truth than you could possibly imagine.”
The story follows three recently divorced women (Ginette MacDonald, Geraldine Brophy, Rima Te Wiata) in their fifties, from Wellington’s Belmont suburb, who embark on a Cuban holiday sometime between September 11, 2001 and the beginning of the Iraq War. On the sun-drenched beaches of southeastern Cuba they have numerous cultural misunderstandings and flirtatious encounters with muscular young pool attendants, before the decisive event at the end of the first act in which the three vivacious women are imprisoned without trial at the United States’ notorious Guantanamo Bay detention camp.
Therein follows two hours of vintage cultures-collide farce, as the three ladies charm hardline Islamic fundamentalists and their American gaolers alike, with their earthy and sometimes bawdy Kiwi senses of humour. In one hilarious, yet poignant, scene, June (Te Wiata) teaches terror suspect Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri how to make a flat white. The cheery spirit of these feisty Belmont divorcées shines a light into this darkest of dark places, and seems to promise a middle way between the two sides of the War On Terror.
Although approximately thirty minutes of the second act is devoted to an extremely harrowing onstage depiction of waterboarding, during which something in the region of twenty audience members either fainted, vomited, or left the auditorium, the overall tone of the production is one of light and heartwarming hilarity, harking back to the wholesome golden days of New Zealand comedy, and playwright Roger Hall’s early, most well-known work.
Without wanting to give away the ending, the play’s wonderful climactic scene involves a visit from former President George W. Bush and the utterance of the play’s title, “Shush Your Bush,” which had the capacity crowd in hysterics. Highly recommended!
You may have caught wind of these via your trusty social media hub, if not – some shows in your vicinity.
Photograph with roadie taken by @mistercrawley.
Friday May 17 Brighton The Haunt (12:15pm Great Escape – NZ Party)
Friday May 17 Brighton Komedia (7pm Great Escape thingy)
In the bold, freewheeling spirit of such other ad hoc, last minute ventures as the snap election of ’84, I’m announcing a short solo tour of my home country.
The venues are small-ish, the prices are low-ish to non-existent (see Christchurch); it’s all just an excuse to do something spontaneous without endless agonising over marketing, logistical considerations, string quartet rehearsals, arranging someone to feed the cat etc.
I’ve been writing some new songs over the past couple of months and I’d like to try some of these out in a public setting to force me to finish the lyrics. I’ll also be taking requests, and will undoubtedly perform “The Handsome Sons Of Shirley” at some point. I’m considering covers.
Presales for the Wellington and Auckland shows are available now through Under The Radar. The Auckland show’s particularly small in capacity (75), so I’d especially recommend pre-buying for that one. Just doing doorsales for the Dunedin show cos everything’s a bit more casual down there. Christchurch, first come, first served!
Michael Fabulous and I are pleased to announce that our pro-am funk ensemble Fabulous/Arabia is coming out of mothballs for a few shows in various New Zealand locales, ending up in the scenic Southern Lakes for the Festival Of Colour.
The dates are as follows:
Friday April 12 – Titirangi Festival of Music, Auckland
Monday April 15 – Puppies, Wellington
Tuesday April 16 – Festival of Colour at Queenstown Memorial Hall, Queenstown
Wednesday April 17 – Festival of Colour at Central Lakes Trust Crystal Palace, Wanaka
Happy summer New Zealand.
Tickets for this flamingoid Wellington show (above) are available here.
We also play Laneway Festival on January 28 in Auckland with the string quartet (tickets/info here), then a non-stringy lineup will play at Music at Matua on February 9 with our friends the Phoenix Foundation. (tickets)
A new video for “The Listening Times,” directed by the magnificent Simon Ward.