It's a relief, after months of planning, to be on the road with the choir at last. Everyone's in good spirits, glad to have two weeks to think of nothing other than singing and cuisine (cheese-and-onion sandwiches, feijoas) but we do think of the choir members who, for various reasons, are unable to be with us, and thank them for their support.
We started our NZ tour with two highly encouraging gigs in Auckland last weekend. The first was on Saturday night, at the Baptist Tabernacle in upper Queen St, a beautiful columnated edifice with great sound, hospitable staff and an enthusiastic audience which included old chums and collaborators Louise Britzman, Clive Cockburn, Arthur Baysting, Nick Bollinger, Jeni Little, Terry Gardiner and my friends in the Auckland community choir scene: Heaven Bent, Jubilation, One Voice and Sister Shout.
The second gig was at St Pauls in Devonport, another beautiful venue (with the outstandingly helpful pastor Sherri Weinberg) with a similar audience that featured Rick Bryant, Fiona Samuel, Marilyn Waring, Debby Harwood, Barton Price and many more local choir members. If anything it was a more focussed performance, if the standing ovation was anything to go by.
Our soundman for these gigs was Rikki Morris, a former APRA Silver Scroll winner and legend of the New Zealand music scene - we played in the Crocodiles together (with Barton) back in 1981, and it was a pleasure to work with him again. Thanks Rikki.
Everyone seems to think that Willy's version of Our Father in Maori (O Matua) is a standout, I agree - and have to commend all our soloists for really whipping it out. I'm enjoying playing tremolo-heavy guitar on Pray On, I Won't Be Back and Lift Me Up and am loving the choir's sound.
Thanks to Wendy Moore and all who helped - it's great to here and to feel the choir, loosed from their lives back in Sydney, swing into action.