Wellington (Part Two)

30 01 2011

Wellington isn’t just the political capital of New Zealand – it is the café-loving, artistic capital of the country. After my last post, which focused on its more political and practical aspects, this post is dedicated to some of my favourite artistic aspects of the city, starting with its waterfront.

The Wellington waterfront is in its own right a piece of art. Centuries of the earth’s sculpting meld and give way to man’s more recent contributions. It is a fitting backdrop for the Wellington Writers’ Walk and other works of art that follow the shoreline. The Wellington Writers’ Walk consists of nineteen excerpts from New Zealand authors that are either about Wellington or have a connection with the city. These excerpts are scattered along the waterfront on benchmarks and large concrete slabs and form a walk that aims to promote New Zealand literature to the wider national and international audience. I loved this walk – it was like a lyrical scavenger hunt, searching for the next slab or bench and reading its excerpt. The quotes interspersed in this post were all taken from the walk, the photo (left) is of Denis Glover’s excerpt.

The harbour is an ironing board/flat iron tugs dash smoothing toward/any shirt of a ship any pillowslip/of a freighter they decree/must be ironed flat as washing from the sea (Denis Glover)

Along the waterfront and behind Te Papa is Solace in the Wind, a sculpture by Max Patte (right). Standing at two metres high, it is of a man leaning forward into the cross-gale wind with his arms back and a look of consolation on his face. Wellington is a windy city – gale force winds are not uncommon and umbrellas are rarely, if ever, used (they normally end up inside-out and useless, tossed into the nearest rubbish bin). Most Wellingtonians are so accustomed to gale strength winds that if you were to ask them to describe the strength of the wind when it was blowin’ a gale, they would reply with something like “just a bit of a breeze, mate” – meanwhile you watch the laundry escape from the washing line (despite multiple peggings) and make a bid for freedom. There have been moments while absent from the capital where I have missed its wind – there is something both reassuring and (paradoxically) calming about it, even when it was trying to blow you over. Perhaps that was why I felt a sense of affinity with this statue. 

Their heads bent, their legs just touching, they stride like one eager person through the town, down the asphalt zigzag where the fennel grows wild…the wind is so strong that they have to fight their way through it, rocking like two old drunkards (Katherine Mansfield)

Between the harbour and CBD is the City to Sea Bridge. More than just an ambulatory path into the CBD, City to Sea is an interactive piece of art with sculptures by Para Matchitt of whales, birds, celestial representations and symbols of love. It has seats and various peepholes along the way, I particularly liked the bird that lies across the footpath with its large glass bottle eye (right). Heading towards the city end of the City to Sea Bridge is a Te Aho a Maui (Maui’s line). In Māori mythology Maui was responsible for fishing up the North Island (amongst other heroic exploits). This piece references that particular exploit and consists of waterfalls and a pyramid shaped mountain from which Maui’s line unravels in terra-cotta hues (left). At the CBD end of the bridge is Civic Square and suspended above it is Ferns, a spherical sculpture of fern fronds by Neil Dawson (right). The ferns in the orb balance the sculptures of nikau palms that are set as markers around the square. Whether lit up by the city’s lights, or gleaming under the beams of the sun, this sculpture has an ethereal quality. 

Then out of the tunnel and Wellington burst like a bomb it opened like a flower as lit up like a room, explained itself exactly, became the capital (Maurice Gee)

Another favourite is Wai-titi Landing, a sculpture of two Pou Whenua (Māori boundary markers) by Ra Vincent. Although the site is now a park on the corner of Molesworth Street, it used to be a beach and resting place for waka used by Te Atiawa and other Taranaki whanau. The carved figures on the Pou Whenua symbolise the people of the land while the kōwhai design carved on the inner surface represents the wairua (spirit of the land). 

Then it’s Wellington we’re coming to! It’s time, she says, it’s time surely for us to change lanes, change tongues they speak so differently down here (Vincent O’Sullivan)

Plimmer Steps is a pedestrian street between Lambton Quay and up to The Terrace. At the Lambton Quay end is a statue of John Plimmer (the eponymous gentleman of the Steps) who ambles down the path with his dog bouncing along beside him. This statue has been in Wellington for as long as I can remember and I really enjoy its sense of movement and camaraderie. On various days during my trip I noticed that the dog had been decked out in scarves and shoes. Sadly, these articles then seemed to disappear by the next day, although I did capture a shot of a be-shoed canine (left).

I love this city, the hills, the harbour, the wind that blasts through it. I love the life and pulse and activity, and the warm decrepitude…there’s always an edge here that one must walk which is sharp and precarious, requiring vigilance (Patricia Grace)

One very famous Wellingtonian is Peter Jackson, notably as the director of The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Weta Workshop (the special effects and props company behind LOTR) is located in Miramar, Wellington and at the top of Courtney Place is Tripod, a sculpture by the company. Tripod is covered with paraphernalia of the film making business and the insane amount of detail on it is what makes it an especially awesome piece.



Yet I think, having used my words as the kings used gold, ere we came by the rustling jest of the paper kings, I who am overbold will be steadily bold, in the counted tale of things (Iris Guiver Wilkinson – pen name Robin Hyde)

Cuba Street is possibly my favourite street in the city; I loved living there before I left for the UK (despite some of the sounds that emanated from the karaoke at Blue Note on Sunday nights). Named after an 1840 settler ship, Cuba Street is an eclectic collection of businesses and pedestrians and has a bohemian feel to it. Midnight Espresso, one of my favouritest cafés, is situated on upper Cuba. It has a typically Cuba heterogeneous mix of customers and serves excellent coffee topped with an awesome menu. The final installment of Wellington art for this post is one that I am especially fond of and can be found further along Cuba Street: it is perhaps the most naff, but most endearing, sculpture in city. The Bucket Fountain was designed by Burren and Keen in 1969 and consists of a series of primary coloured buckets which collect water until they are forced to tip into a large blue bucket at the bottom which in turn empties into a pool beneath it. Well, in theory it empties into the pool beneath it, but due to the Wellington wind it is not uncommon to get sprayed on windy days by falling water from these buckets. The sculpture has a very child-like quality to it, an adjacent child’s slide and clime-able tuatara add to its sense of frivolity. The fountain’s lack of seriousness is perhaps what makes fit so well in its surroundings. Running through the garden sprinklers is one of childhood’s small pleasures, dodging the Bucket Fountain on a windy day is the grown-up equivalent of that pastime.

It’s true you can’t live here by chance, you have to do and be, not simply watch or even describe. This is the city of action, the world headquarters of the verb (Lauris Edmond)


I have uploaded more photos onto Flickr – so feel free to check them out!


Wellington (Part One)

19 01 2011

Salutations and welcome to the first post of 2011! I hope that this year has started well for you all. Apologies for the delay in posting my first epistle of the year, however I can report that this year I have resolved to post on a much more frequent basis. I also have plans for this blog – here’s to the year of shininglikeadiamond!

Text from Maurice GeeAs I wrote in Hijacking Rainbows and Christmas 2010, I journeyed to New Zealand in December where I spent time back in Wellington with family and friends.  This and the next post were inspired by the trip back home and the opportunity I had to re-visit some of my favourite things in my favourite city with renewed eyes after two and a half years away. 

Wellington is absolutely, positively the best little city in the world.  It sits nestled between hills and harbour and has a vibrant mix of suit-and-tie CBD and tie-dyed bohemia.  About a 30 minute drive north from Wellington is Porirua, which is a city in its own right and part of the greater Wellington region.  I have fond memories of growing up in and around Porirua.  Over the years I moved a little further south to Tawa, one of the outer suburbs of Wellington.  During this time Wellington Railway Station became a daily destination for me as I travelled in and out of the capital for school, then university and finally work. I became accustomed to the station’s nuances, nooks and crannies and in the end I came to really enjoy passing through it on my daily commute. As the station is such an integral part of the city, and since I have spent a fair bit of time passing through the building, it seemed somewhat fitting Wellington Railway Station was the first of my favourite things. 

Wellington Railway Station is, as far as railway stations go, an attractive building.  It was completed in 1937 and was at that time the largest building in the country; it is currently New Zealand’s busiest station.  The façade of the building reminds me somewhat of the clock tower in Back to the Future, which may add to its coolness factor.  The station even has a claim to international fame – it was used in an advertisement for thetrainline.com (the one with all the sheep).  I find this amusing as 1) they have used a New Zealand station to advertise travel solutions for within the UK and that 2) they have filled it with sheep. 

Next to the station is Westpac Stadium (right).  The stadium was built in 1999 and its yellow seats are visible from the plane as you fly into Wellington (the city’s colours are yellow and black).  I have been to many a rugby game at the stadium and also the odd concert.  While I have a strong attachment to the old Athletic Park, the stadium still makes it as one of my favourite places in the city.  I have dearly missed attending the Lions, Hurricanes and All Black games that have been played there while I have been in the UK.

Outside the front of Wellington Railway Station is one of a series of signs that can be found around the city.  These signs use a three-dimensional image as visual embellishment.  Wellington Railway Station’s sign (left) has a train on it, while the sign for Bunny Street has a Buzzy Bee and the sign for Cable Car Lane has a cable car (both below).  I reckon these signs are pretty awesome, they are certainly more enjoyable than your average street sign. I made a point of taking a photo of each during my expeditions to the city.  These signs also point the way to my next two favourite Wellington things for this post: the parliamentary grounds and cable car. 

As a Wellington Girls’ College student, one of the routes to school took me past the Beehive.  This was my preferred route to school – in part because it took longer, but also because I enjoyed the parliamentary scenery.  New Zealand’s parliamentary buildings consist of the Beehive (right), Parliament House, Parliamentary Library and Bowen House (which is across the road).  The Beehive is probably the most iconic of the buildings and its nickname clarifies why the sign on Bunny Street (right)  has a Buzzy Bee on it and not a rabbit.  The reason for a Buzzy Bee in particular (as opposed to a common garden bee) is that the Buzzy Bee is an absolutely iconic Kiwi childhood toy (I had one growing up).  When Charles and Diana visited with baby William in 1983 one of the photos from that tour was of them and William on the lawn of Government House (Auckland) with a Buzzy Bee.  I imagine that if the Buzzy Bee did not exist (and what kind of world would that be?!) that William would have received a toy sheep instead.  The parliamentary grounds are also a favourite spot for lunching Wellingtonians on warmer, dryer days.  I’ve spent more than one lunch time lying under the trees there. The photo (right) is my particular, favourite spot: warm but with enouigh shade to avoid the worst of the Kiwi sun.

The Cable Car is the last of my favourite things for this post.  It is one Wellington oldest tourist attractions and an icon of the city.  It runs between Lambton Quay and the Wellington Botanic Gardens, stopping at The Terrace, Kelburn Park and Victoria University on the way.  During my first year at Victoria University, I used the cable car on a near daily basis to get to lectures.  There is a good reason why the Cable Car is a tourist attraction. Aside from the history of it, the views from the top are stunning.  If there is one thing about Wellington that I love, it is that no matter the weather – no matter how skin-scorching the sun is, or how knock-you-over strong the southerly wind blows – the view of the city and its harbour always take my breath away.  The city’s landscape has a blend of rugged and tamed that makes it indescribably beautiful.  There is a saying amongst Wellingtonians: “you can’t beat Wellington on a good day.”  In truth, you can’t beat Wellington on a bad day either.

Hijacking Rainbows

8 12 2010

Who says you can’t go home?/There’s only one place they call me one of their own/I’m just a hometown boy, born a rollin’ stone/Who says you can’t go home?/Who says you can’t go back?/Been all around the world and as a matter of fact/There’s only one place left I want to go/Who says you can’t go home?

Rewind to the last Friday of January 2008 and I was sitting in Wellington Airport waiting to board a domestic flight to Christchurch.  There was one reason, and one reason only, for this trip and that was to see Bon Jovi perform at AMI Stadium on the following Monday night.  As I mentioned in this post I am bit of a fan of the boys from New Jersey.  In that post I described the Christchurch gig as a

glorious mix of good company, good live music and a gorgeous late summer evening

That particular weekend was one of those magical moments of serendipity.  I had decided to make a proper mini-break of the experience and planned to spend the whole weekend in Christchurch.  I had booked an early morning flight on that Friday and was sitting in my seat on the plane, about to buckle myself in, when looking up I spotted Cat sitting one row in front of me but in the other aisle.  Cat is one of my best friends, however at that point I hadn’t seen her for a couple of years – I certainly didn’t expect to see her sitting on this plane.  I forgot about my seat belt and reaching forward I tapped her on the shoulder “Cat?” I asked “Oh my god, Lizzie?” came the surprised response.  It turned out that not only did Cat have tickets to Bon Jovi but that her tickets were for the same area as my ticket.  In the end I had an awesome weekend catching up and rockin’ out with a fellow rock chick.  The entire weekend ended up being that little bit more special than it would’ve otherwise been due to that chance meeting.

Fast forward a few months later and I found myself once again sitting in Wellington Airport, this time waiting to board an international flight for London on a one way ticket.  Fast forward even further to June this year and I received the following message from Cat

hey so Bon Jovi are playing Wellington on December 4th – totally an excuse to come back and visit NZ!! If you’re keen, we have a spare room…

I thought about it, but not for that long (Bon Jovi? Wellington? Home? a chance to catch up with family?).  I responded with

re: Bon Jovi – you’re on

That conversation started a series of events which resulted with me sitting in Heathrow Airport on Monday 29 November waiting to board an international flight back home to Wellington, New Zealand.

Yes readers, I did fly half way around the world for Bon Jovi.

And for my family and friends.

Most importantly for family and friends.

But also for Bon Jovi.

The concert itself was excellent.  I revelled in the fact that I was sitting in Westpac Stadium next to my brother and best friend (and even near my cousin who turned out was not far from us) waiting for the show to start .  It was felt both surreal to be back in Wellington but at the same time it also felt like I had never left.  Particular highlights for me was the nod to various Kiwis in the video for Born to Follow and Jon’s tribute to the Pike River Miners – the latter was especially appreciated.  The encore of Wanted was also wicked cool and the inclusion of Who says you can’t go home also stuck a personal note with me.  All in all, it was well worth the 26 hour flight from London.

It doesn’t matter where you are, doesn’t matter where you go/If it’s a million miles away or just a mile up the road/Take it in, take it with you when you go/Who says you can’t go home?

Set list: blood on blood/we weren’t born to follow/you give love a bad name/born to be my baby/lost highway/whole lot of leavin’/when we were beautiful/it’s my life/I’ll sleep when I’m dead/we got it goin’ on/bad medicine (with pretty woman)/lay your hands on me/what do you got?/I’ll be there for you/work for the working man/raise your hands/runaway/who says you can’t go home/keep the faith Encore: wanted dead or alive/livin’ on a prayer

East, West, South and North

21 11 2010

Go get yourself a cuppa because it is time for a Lizzie catch up and what a busy month it has been, traversing the four corners of Great Britain. I did take more photos than appear below, a couple more are on flickr, I’ll add more when I get the opportunity.

East. Lincoln (England) 23-24 October. Lincoln sits in the East Midlands and is often overlooked in a London-centric England, which is a bit of a shame as it is a gem of a city.  It is one of the closest cities to where my parents live and as I was at my parents for both the obligatory birthday dinner (yes it is that time of year again), and as I had other necessary tasks to complete, a trip into Lincoln was required.  Sites in Lincoln that are particularly worthy of a visit include the Cathedral and the Castle, both of which originally date back to the 11th century.   One of my favourite places in Lincoln is Stokes, a cafe which sits on the High Bridge over the River Witham.  The bridge itself is the oldest bridge in the UK to still have buildings on it and dates to the 12th century.  From the windows you can look over the river (which is often decorated with swans) and the Empowerment sculpture (one of my favourite sites in Lincoln).  This shot is actually taken looking back towards High Bridge (which is obscured by trees) and the sculpture.  To add to the surreality of the moment the Merry-Go-Round was playing the Dambusters theme (617 Squadron were stationed in Lincolnshire, including at RAF Scampton which is not far from the city):

West. Caerdydd/Cardiff (Cymru/Wales) 30-31 October. I had no real plans when I booked my weekend in Caerdydd, other than a desire to return to the city since my trip last year for a Stereophonics’ concert at the Castle.  In I had a lovely time walking around the city.  The Welsh are high on my list of likes for a few reasons which are neither great nor grand but regardless are important to me, namely:

  • Ms Griffith. My teacher in 5th Form (History) and in 6th Form (Human Development).  She was originally from Cymru and was one of my favourite teachers at secondary school.  If I were to ever get into teaching it would be in part due to her, she was wicked cool.
  • Rugby. The Welsh take the game of Rugby Union as seriously and passionately as New Zealand and a Wales vs New Zealand fixture is always eagerly anticipated.  Unsurprisingly I am rather totally excited about the opportunity to go to the All Black game at the Millennium Stadium this Saturday.
  • Stereophonics. I’ve written about this band more than once and how much I like them, so enough said on this occasion.
  • Dr Who/Torchwood. Last time I visited Caerdydd I made a point of visiting Bae Caerdydd (where the fictional Torchwood facility is located) and the Doctor Who exhibition. I took many photos and was a total nerd.  It was great.  Here is a shot of Canolfan Mileniwm Cymru/Wales Millennium Centre taken on this trip (Torchwood fans will recognise it as the vicinity where the facility is located):

South.  Brighton (England)  7 November. I would say a day by the seaside, but a visit to the English seaside doesn’t really extend into Autumnal November.  Instead the day was spent hopping between cafes with a trip to the local museum thrown in for good measure. The museum was interesting, and had a rather eclectic, but enjoyable, array of exhibits. It was rather surreal (but lovely and heart cockle warming) to see a carved stern of a waka and a carved tiki from New Zealand amongst the artifacts.  Brighton is known, amongst other things, for its pier and seaside attractions, on an earlier visit I took this shot of a Merry-Go-Round sitting on the sea front before it was put to bed for the evening:

North.  Edinburgh (Scotland)  13-14 November. RUGBY.  That was the reason for the trip to Edinburgh: Scotland vs New Zealand at Murrayfield.  Scotland is one place that I have wanted to visit since moving here, and for some strange reason I hadn’t managed to get there until last weekend (though I had a brief wander around Jedburgh in 2008). Unfortunately I didn’t have the time to really appreciate Edinburgh on this occasion, so I anticipate a return trip sometime next year. I will definitely stay at the same hostel though, it had the most crazy-cool decor, including a baby grand piano and bust of Caracalla in the Posh Lounge and pictures of Hendrix and Marley in the Cool Lounge. My favourite little guy in the hostel was this fella I found lurking in the stairwell:

The match itself was well worth the trip up north, and along with yesterday’s game against Ireland, served as hearty appetizers for New Zealand vs Wales in Caerdydd this Saturday (where I will once again wave the New Zealand flag with gusto and pride).

Rugby & Rock Concerts

23 10 2010

Rugby and rock concerts.  Two pursuits of happiness that make for a contented Lizzie.  Last weekend was all about that particular combination with a rugby match at Wembley and not one, but two, Stereophonics concerts.

Amazingly I had not actually attended a rugby match here in the UK until last Saturday.  Considering I made a point of attending every possible Lions, Hurricanes and All Black game back in Wellington, this long gap in rugby attendance is rather uncharacteristic.  However, for the grand total of ten quid I found myself among 45,000+ other spectators for Saracens vs Leinster at Wembley.  Wembley is a stunning ground, and while Leinster took the victory over the home team (thanks to Sexton and to the delight of the Irish supporters around me), I was just a bit gutted that my camera wasn’t working because it was a truly gorgeous early Autumn’s day.  Well, I thought my camera wasn’t working.  I tried turning it on and got the message change battery pack. I thought this was a strange message as the last time I checked the battery (the day before) it was full but nevertheless I put it back in my bag.  It wasn’t till I got home that I found that the battery was fine, the camera was fine, it was just having a bit of a moment on me.  Shame, because there was a clear, crisp blue sky behind Wembley and you could see out over most of the City of London from the stadium – it would have made a lovely photo or two.  This disappointment was tempered somewhat by the Elvis impersonator I passed on the way to the ground singing Suspicious Minds. Awesome.

The Stereophonics performed their two shows at the Hammersmith Apollo with Word Gets Around on the Sunday night and Performance & Cocktails on the Monday night.  Not used to school night excursions two nights running, I was a zombie at work on the Tuesday, fuelled by tea and anything with sugar. 

I have been a bit of a mark for the ‘Phonics since I was but a school girl and – as I mentioned in this post – I have made a point of attending as many of their concerts as possible while I’m here in the UK.  The ‘Phonics are supreme live and these concerts were no exception.  Both nights started with Kelly telling anecdotes of Stuart Cable, who sadly passed away earlier this year.  I particularly appreciated the story of Stuart and their first ever gig at Wembley Stadium in 1999.  Stuart was big on rugby and the same day and time that the ‘Phonics were playing Wembley (supporting Aerosmith no less) was the same day and time that Wales were playing the ‘Boks.  This presented a dilemma for Stuart (and one with which I can sympathise).  Faced with a 60,000+ audience, Steven Tyler on one wing of the stage and Noel Gallagher on the other wing of the stage, Stuart solved his problem by taking a small portable telly on stage with him so to not miss the match.  Good on ya, mate. 

Highlights of the concerts?  For Sunday, one would be Kelly’s response for a request for Sex on Fire from someone in the audience. “F*#k your Sex on Fire” was his reply, easily one of the best quips of the night, week, month, year.  Thank you Mr Jones.  But seriously, closing with Bartender instead of Dakota (and similarly closing with Local Boy instead of Dakota on the Monday) was awesome.  Also well enjoyed was Too Many Sandwiches.  Back in the days of school uniforms and homework I wrote out the lyrics to this song in Carla’s leaving book – that was how much I liked it, so much so that I knew it off by heart and ten years on and I still know it by heart.  Also deserving an honourable mention was the Word Gets Around version of She Takes Her Clothes Off and the humble request that they play this version more often? Please and thank you.  Highlights for Monday night would be  Roll Up and Shine, Is Yesterday Tomorrow Today? Nice To Be Out, Plastic California and I Stopped to Fill My Car Up which ends with a particularly storming solo by Adam and worth hunting out online. 

Set list 17 October:

Chaplin/Tramp’s Vest/Thousand Trees/Carrot Cake & Wine/Chris Chambers/Tie Me Up & Tie Me Down/Same Sized Feet/Traffic/Goldfish Bowl/Check My Eyelids for Holes/Buy Myself a Small Plane/Poppy Day/Home to Me/She Takes Her Clothes Off/Too Many Sandwiches Encore 1: Billy Davy’s Daughter/Raymond’s Shop/Last of the Big Time Drinkers/Local Boy Encore 2: Pick a Part that’s New/Radio/Maybe Tomorrow/Have a Nice Day/Dakota/Bartender

Set list 18 October:

Roll Up & Shine/Bartender/Hurry Up & Wait/Pick a Part that’s New/Just Looking/Half the Lies You Tell Ain’t True/Radio/Fiddlers Green/T Shirt Suntan/Is Yesterday Tomorrow Today?/In My Day/A Minute Longer/Sunny Afternoon/Nice To Be Out/She Takes Her Clothes Off/Plastic California/I Stopped To Fill My Car Up Encore 1 Thousand Trees/Tramp’s Vest/Same Sized Feet/Too Many Sandwiches Encore 2: Traffic/Maybe Tomorrow/Have a Nice Day/Dakota/Local Boy

Time to party like it’s 1989

12 06 2010

Friday marked the two-year anniversary of my move from Aotearoa to the UK.  As luck would have it Bon Jovi were playing show four of twelve at the O2, thus gifting me the perfect opportunity to acknowledge my little milestone.

As one may gather from my explanation of why my blog is called shininglikeadiamond, I am one of the Bon Jovi faithful.  One of the first albums I bought was their 1994 best of album Cross Road.  As I mentioned in my virgin post I didn’t have a lot of exposure to contemporary music until the dawn of the nineties.  The purchase of Cross Road, like Jackson’s Thriller, was the start of forming my own opinion of what music I liked (even if the purchase was based purely on a review I read in the teen magazine TV Hits).  In the end that little blurb of a review started a life long love affair with the New Jersey rockers.  It also paved the way for one of my first acts of teen rebellion as the charm of Jon and crew did not rub off on my parents (to put it mildly). 

The O2 concert was the second time I’ve seen Bon Jovi live.  The first was during their Lost Highway tour when they played Christchurch, NZ.  This particular concert ranks high on my list of favourite concerts as it was a glorious mix of good company, good live music and a gorgeous late summer evening.  Friday’s concert was just as good, if not for different reasons.  Up in the gods of the O2 the view actually exceeded my expectations and wasn’t nearly as vertigo inducing as I had imagined (a photo from the night has been included at the end).  Much like the Stereophonics’ concert earlier in the year, Friday’s fix was a timely opportunity to let loose the inner Rock Chick (which was long overdue an outing).  If I had to choose three top moments from the evening it would go something like

  1. The inclusion of let it rock on the set list. Seriously cool. For the curious I’ve added the set list to the end of this post.
  2. Richie Sambora’s lay your hands on me.  Would it be cheeky to ask for more Sambora taking the lead?  Hmm, possibly.  Muchly enjoyed all the same.  I’m gonna add the double necked Telecaster Sambora plays during have a nice day, it’s a beast and I love it.
  3. The acoustic someday I’ll be saturday night. Made all the better for the fact that all four members were out front on the outer ring of the stage.

Honourable mentions for the night would also go to work for the working man which was as good live as I thought it’d be, bad medicine with pretty woman thrown in (ok, yes, it sounds like it should’ve been naff, but it wasn’t, please believe me) and Jon purely for his energy level throughout the evening – the man’s an energizer bunny.

In the end, the concert was so enjoyable that I’m going back for the final of the twelve shows.*  Proof that you can’t have too much of a good thing – and that you should take all the opportunities there are to let out your inner Rock Chick.

Set list: happy now/we weren’t born to follow/you give love a bad name/born to be my baby/radio saved my life/lost highway/when we were beautiful/raise your hands/we got it going on/sleep when I’m dead/bad medicine w/ pretty woman/lay your hands on me (Richie Sambora)/open all night/diamond ring/I’ll be there for you/something for the pain/someday I’ll be Saturday night/let it rock/it’s my life/work for the working man/who says you can’t go home/keep the faith.  Encore: have a nice day/wanted dead or alive/livin’ on a prayer.

*Even though it clashes with the Dr Who finale. Oh, did that cause me some consternation when I realised this was the case.  Thank goodness for i-player –  I wouldn’t want to have to choose between Bon Jovi and The Doctor otherwise.

Lizzie lets loose her inner Rock Chick

13 03 2010

Golly a whole month and no post.  Considering one of my New Year Resolutions was to post more frequently, this is not so good.  Will have to be more proactive on the blogging frontier! Here’s an update from the past week.

Last week started out as one of those weeks that just promised to drag.  Exacerbated by a period of poor sleep, Monday and Tuesday felt like an age, a veritable eternity, instead of just two days.  It was perfect time then for a pick-me-up on Wednesday night in the form of another excellent concert by the Stereophonics.  Standing in my favourite spot, watching one of my favourite live bands, letting my inner Rock Chick out for a couple of hours, was the perfect remedy for an otherwise totally forgettable week. 

One (of the few) downsides of living in New Zealand is that it is a long way from pretty much everywhere, including for bands to come and play. I missed the Stereophonics the first time they came to Aotearoa, not quite making the age restriction for the gig.  Needless to say when they finally returned ten years later I toddled along to Auckland’s Powerstation for the show (this time I well and truly met the age restriction). Since moving to the UK I’ve made up for lost opportunities, taking the time to see them live a further three times: at London’s O2 Arena in December 2008, Cardiff Castle in October 2009 and last Wednesday (also at the O2).  

Not known for being one of the darlings of the music critics, I’ve seen the Stereophonics been described as ‘workman like’ in their approach to music.  I don’t think this is a bad thing.  In fact, it can be a very good thing. There is no pretence at a Stereophonics’ concert, no smoke and mirrors, you know what you’re going to get – and that’s a 20-something set list of bloody good live music.  Not that I have anything against the more theatrical type of concert (I am afterall a Floyd fan), but it’s important that the music takes centre stage.  Theatrics are great, especially when they enhance what’s being played or provide visually what  the music’s saying. However, sometimes it seems that acts use it to cover a weakness in their music – they’re all flash and no substance.  It’s musical malnutrition if you like – it fills you up but doesn’t nourish you. 

Anyway, come Wednesday evening I ambled along to the O2, dressed in black (black jeans, black t-shirt, black biker jacket – it’s a uniform of sorts for the rock orientated isn’t it?) and ready to have a good time.  Which is to say, ready to sing along to all songs in a voice that is best not to be heard, and dance in a way that best not to be seen (not that either of those considerations stop me).  The set list in its entirety follows, but here are my top three songs of the evening:

  1. Maybe Tomorrow – only ever seen it live with just Kelly and his Strat.  This time it was the whole band, and I loved it.
  2. Stuck in a Rut. I like this live, a lot.
  3. Bartender/Local Boy/Just Looking. Yeah, I cheated, there are three songs here, but I always look forward to these three (in that order), so it was a given that they’d make the list.  Bartender was especially stomping though.

Set list:
Innocent/A Thousand Trees/More Life in a Tramps Vest/I Got Your Number/Superman/Pick a Part/Uppercut/Stuck in a Rut/Same Sized Feet/Maybe Tomorrow/Live n Love/Traffic/Trouble/Could You Be The One?/Radio/Beerbottle/Mr Writer/Have a Nice Day/Caravan Holiday/Just Looking/Local Boy
Encore: She’s Alright/Bartender & The Thief/Dakota