Wednesday, November 25, 2009
The Case for Dobby the NZ Cultural Icon Elf
For my first concert of this Spring/Summer season, the Fisherman arranged an expedition to go and see the world famous in New Zealand legend that is Dave Dobbyn at the St James.
The concert was apparently a part of Dobbyn’s celebratory tour after 30 years of producing mainly mellow hits for a mainstream crowd. And the crowd on the night reflected that output, with the audience mostly around the same age and the attire varying from someone dressed as an orange, to the (majority) middle of the road casual, all the way to the odd person fully decked out – in a Kiwi kind of way, of course.
Within an hour of people being allowed to take their seats, Dobbyn and his band took to the stage. He was introduced by a man who warned that there would be two sets: a slower one, then a “hit parade”. It takes a brave man to lead off with a hauntingly mellow, mostly unknown and ultimately soporific song, but it was Dobbyn’s show, so he could do what he liked. And he did. And the crowd liked it too.
As did I, though unfortunately I was suffering greatly from low energy. This had the effect of allowing me to appreciate the craftsmanship of the music, but unfortunately had my internal pacemaker screaming for a faster tempo to snap me out of my increasing bouts of reverie. The normally hyper lively “Slice of Heaven” was reggae-fied, and I was not sure if the faster pub hits of “Devil You Know” and “Be Mine Tonight” were deliberately interspersed between slower more reflective songs to break the dancing spirit of those who rushed the stage – a tactic that defeated some, but not all.
As my ears were filled with musical magic, my eyes were drawn to Dobbyn’s band. They were all incredibly talented people, but I was surprised at the dichotomy between the slobbish males and the stylish females. The guys wore comfortable pants and polo shirts and looked like they had just tidied themselves in a mirror before coming on stage, whereas the ladies donned sophisticated dresses and high heeled shoes and had impeccable makeup applied with surgical precision.
Dobbyn was a gracious “main man”, lavishly praising his band and endorsing their individual musical endeavours. It seemed like a group that really enjoyed working together – an illusion perhaps that will be shattered by a tell-all “my Dobbyn Hell” memoir released once the tour is over. But I choose to believe they all loved being together and performing Dobbyn classics. Even the advertisement standard “Loyal” was sung with fresh breath and what appeared to be genuine enjoyment. You could feel the love in the air, even if I could barely make out the words in “Shouldn’t you ought to be in love” when Dobbyn surrendered the microphone for a spell.
Bursting out of the humid auditorium onto the refreshingly windswept streets around midnight, it was incredible to reflect on the professionalism and talent of the man and his band, and the fact we had just spent several hours being entertained with songs that have become a part of Kiwi culture, all for less than $20 each.
Verdict: A fantastic night out for an amazing show for a wonderful price. Bravo Dobbyn, Fisherman, and the rest of the people that made it all happen. Next time, though, I will bring along a metronome that I will put behind the drummer to make him play that beat just that little bit faster… 4 Slices of Heaven out of 5