The alligator and the girl fight

On Friday night I got the ferry over to Devonport to see Bill Direen playing at the Masonic Tavern. The ferry was full of nicely dressed middle-aged couples returning to the Devonport after a night out in the city. (I like the idea of living in Devonport and ferrying to the city. That could be me, I tell you, if only great-grandpappy Mays hadn’t sqandered the family fortune!)

Anyway, after seeing Bill Direen play at the PR Bar back in September and being very impressed, I was keen to see him again. After all, it’s not often that he plays these days.

The Masonic was full of many people who looked like they’d been fans of Mr Direen since the ’80s. In fact, I got talking to one lady, a long-time fan, who was in Auckland for a conference and couldn’t resist coming along.

For me, the Bill Direen experience comes down to this: he’s a really good songwriter. It’s just a pleasure to hear the words unfurling with the musical accompaniment.

My favourite tunes were the Russian rug song, which is best appreciated in a seated position, and a rearranged “Alligator“, which is best appreciated in a twisty, slinky position.

I had a splendid time, and I suspect that the older audience members had an even better time.

Then on Saturday night I went to a girl fight!

Heather‘s been learning women’s sport-fighting at Mania gym for a while now. It’s a combination of several martial arts and wrestling, and is much more practical than traditional martial arts of self-defence. Yo, it’s street.

So there was a big event at the Transmission Room, and Heather was fighting in the penultimate pairing (cos she’s that good).

I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I ended up really enjoying it. I suspect many years of watching Superstars of Wrestling had prepared me for being an appreciative audience member.

So, with Supergroove’s “You Freak Me” playing, Heather came out as her alter ego Fabienne Rush, and magically transformed from a lovely, code-writing, SJD-loving girl into a fierce-as lady wrestler. Seriously, she was scary.

Needless to say, she kicked her opponant’s arse. It was really cool cheering her on – and it sounds like she has a bit of a following.

I think I’m a bit too much of a wuss to do anything like that (plus having Lasik puts me out of contention for any extreme contact sports like that, dammit), but I was really impressed by not just Ms Rush, but all the ladies getting fierce in the squared circle.

‘Twas a good weekend!

Music from the present

From all accounts, the Wellington Karajoz Great Blend on Thursday was splendid, so this created a precedent that the Auckland Great Blend on Saturday had to at least match.

I was a bit late to the Dalmatian hall, so I missed William Cooper’s interview, but I was in time to enjoy the funny MrBrown from Singapore give a presentation of his video and audio podcasts. He specialises in political satire, which is a rather bold thing in a country like Singapore.

The panel discussion, which centred around the future of public broadcasting in New Zealand, was interesting, but I found it kind of hard to concentrate on things. You see, I was really excited about the L.E.D.s, who’d come all the way from Christchurch to play. Eventually the panel finished and the L.E.D.s took to the stage and all was good.

Their music seemed more energetic and powerful live than it does on their album. It added another dimension to their songs, and made it hard not to want to dance, dance, dance.

When I was in Nelson, I read the Christchurch Press so became au fait with the goings on in the Christchurch mayoral campaign. This meant that when Blair L.E.D.s introduced “Rumba” with the question “Do you need a beard to be the mayor of Christchurch?” I laughed.

It’s kind of common at Great Blends for the geekier folks to leave the room when the band comes on, but I hope that at least some of the geeks stuck around to experience the L.E.D.s.

The L.E.D.s rock out

And a big thank you to the other Mr Brown, Russell, for organising yet another great Great Blend.

After the Blend, I ended up going along with the hardcore stragglers to the PR Bar on Ponsonby Road to see Bill Direen play. He’s one of those Flying Nun musicians who I’ve heard about for years, but I’d never actually heard any of his music or seen him play. All the lads were excited and for good reason – he was brilliant. He just got up on stage and sang songs, sometimes just him and his guitar, sometimes accompanied by another singer, other times with a bass and drums. He’s such a good song writer, and it was cool to see the guys in the audience yelling out requests (“Monsieur Le President!”) and having Bill play them. I feel really lucky to have been there.

Then the group ended up going to this guy’s place, where we sat around and listened to records, man. “‘Bee Thousand’ is like the indie ‘Sergeant Pepper'”. Yeah, one of those gatherings.

What an excellent night.