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Wiggling their way to NZ


They perform for littlies, but the star power of the Wiggles is anything but. And the South Island is set to be the first place in the world to hear them perform mid-pandemic. Metropol catches up with Red Wiggle (and new father) Simon Pryce, ahead of the We’re All Fruit Salad! tour.

 

 

 

The beloved children’s band – made up of Emma Watkins, Lachlan Gillespie, Simon Pryce and Anthony Field – will be joined onstage by Captain Feathersword, Dorothy the Dinosaur, Wags the Dog, Henry the Octopus and their newest Wiggly Friend; Shirley Shawn the Unicorn for one of 2021’s most highly anticipated tours (in certain circles) in March.

“We have been to New Zealand a bit over the years,” says Red Wiggle Simon Pryce, who has just welcomed another Wiggles fan, his newborn son, Asher, earlier this month.

“We can’t wait [to come to New Zealand]! Normally we would be touring up to eight months in a year. The New Zealand shows will be the first we’re doing after 12 months! And New Zealand is a beautiful, beautiful place to come to.”

A multiple-choice quiz through the school careers advisor suggested Simon was best suited to being a gift card shop owner, but he ended up studying sports science at university before the grandson of two opera singers found his way to drama school and, later, to The Wiggles.

He had known the original band and done a lot of studio work for them over the years.

In 2012 it was announced that Simon would replace Murray Cook, who retired, along with lead singer Greg Page and Purple Wiggle, Jeff Fatt.

“Murray and I were the same size, so maybe I just fit his skivvy and pants,” laughs Simon. But he was a natural fit – and not just for the stage costume!

“It’s been eight years now, an incredible eight years. For some reason these things happen and you’re in the right place, right time.”

The tour, which coincides with the band’s 30-year anniversary, promises all the classics, with some new songs, dances, drums, bagpipes and banjos.

“It’s such an incredible job, particularly as an Australian performer being able to travel the world. Meeting children and families around the world has been the standout about what we do,” explains Simon, who describes the fortunate position of being able to bring light into the lives of children and families who have been doing it tough, whether financially or medically.

He recalls singing ‘Big Red Car’ to a young boy in hospital who started singing along, when the boy’s shocked father started crying. Turns out, those words had been the most his son had said all year. “That’s really been the foundation of 30 years of The Wiggles and that’s what keeps us going.”

Often touring up to 300 days a year, it’s an intense workload. Band members need to look after themselves, get enough sleep and, a prerequisite, they must love the work! “You can’t be a grumpy Wiggle,” Simon laughs.

“We’re inherently happy people, but when you’re doing shows, it could be the fourth show in a day for us. It’s tiring! But we try to remember that for a lot of the audience, it might be their first time seeing us live, so it’s up to us to give the best show possible.

“The energy of the audience is so infectious; you can’t help but smile and have a great time.”

And with the arrival of Asher the baby Wiggle, he’s going to need all the energy he can get!

The tour kicks off in Invercargill on March 19 and will take the talented team to Dunedin, Christchurch, Queenstown, Tauranga, Hamilton, Auckland, Napier and Palmerston North before finishing in Wellington on April 1.


 

Th’ Dudes head our way


Iconic Kiwi band Th’ Dudes has announced new dates for Th’ Bliss Tour, with the nine-date tour now scheduled to kick off in Wellington on 13 November and hit Christchurch on 4 December.

 

 

The newest inductees to the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame were due to hit the road in April for the first time in more than a decade.

Their first tour without founding member Ian Morris, it will feature Ian’s brother Rikki on guitars and providing backing vocals.

“We’ll be back with the same reunion, same songs, same Lez high kicks,” singer Dave Dobbyn says.

“And all with a greater sense of being alive and healthy!”

Originally formed as high school band Krispie in 1975 and disbanding in 1980, Th’ Dudes had an incredible impact on the New Zealand music scene with hits like Be Mine Tonight, Bliss, That Look In Your Eye, Right First Time and Walking in Light. They won Top Group and Single of the Year for Be Mine Tonight at the 1979 New Zealand Music Awards.

They stopped playing live in 1980, ahead of the release of their second album Where Are The Boys.

Since then, Th’ Dudes have only reunited for a tour in 2006 that saw 11 shows expanded to 17 due to the incredible demand for tickets, and visits to favourite holiday spots the following summer.

Th’ Bliss Tour is the first chance to see Th’ Dudes live in concert in 13 years, for shows promising high energy entertainment and all the hits.

Both Auckland concerts are sold out, with remaining tickets to other cities, including the Christchurch shows, on sale now.

In the meantime, fans can enjoy Bliss, a new compilation from Th’ Dudes now out on streaming services, with Bliss on Wax (LP) and Bliss on Disc (CD) available at all good record stores.

Th’ Dudes made two albums: Right First Time released in June 1979 and Where Are The Boys released in July 1980.

This newly re-mastered selection is from these lovingly archived recordings at Stebbing Recording Studios, where both albums were originally recorded and mixed.

 

TH’ DUDES – THE BLISS TOUR NEW DATES

Friday 13 November 2020 TSB Arena, Wellington
Saturday 14 November 2020 Claudelands Arena, Hamilton
Thursday 19 November 2020 Town Hall, Auckland (previously Fri 24 April)
Friday 20 November 2020 Town Hall, Auckland (previously Sat 25 April)
Monday 23 November 2020 Municipal Theatre, Napier
Saturday 28 November 2020 McKay Stadium, Whangarei (formerly known as ASB Stadium)
Wednesday 2 December 2020 Trafalgar Centre, Nelson
Friday 4 December 2020 Town Hall, Christchurch
Saturday 5 December 2020 Town Hall, Dunedin


 

Gray Matter


We’re all pretty familiar with the line that there’s often several years of hard work behind an overnight success; plenty of stars of their fields have filled us in on this very fact.

 

PHOTOGRAPHY: DERRICK SANTINI

 

But there’s an even more magical twist to the success of UK singer-songwriter David Gray.

Although there had undoubtedly been the stock-standard six years of solid hard work behind his success, it’s the fact that his first three albums, recorded under the professional guidance of a record label, were instantly superseded both in popularity and in sales by White Ladder, made on a budget in Gray’s bedroom, that is perhaps the most powerful plot twist here.

The tidal wave of success that has seen seven million copies sold and spawned a string of classic hit singles like Babylon, Please Forgive Me, Sail Away, This Year’s Love and My Oh My first started in Ireland.

After another 18 months on the road, Gray broke into the UK with what would become one of the biggest albums of the 21st century and it has remained in the top 30 best-selling British albums of all time.

Here in New Zealand, it would go three times platinum and 20 years on, we can still sing along!

“It was a moment of reckoning, a moment that was me flipping all the negative energy into a positive,” Gray says of White Ladder’s success.

“After three records I could have blamed the world, blamed the critics, everyone but myself, but I decided I needed to make a better record, needed to give it more, not just time and effort and concentration, but more courageousness, more open-heartedness.

“We went in and did this thing. We didn’t do it in a self-conscious way; it’s a genuine thing, it has heart. People related to the stories, the melodies, the emotional centre. People connected to the album as a whole.”

Although part of 2020 has a “giant question mark hanging over its head”, Gray will hit the New Zealand leg of his tour late this year.

Bringing together the album’s original band members and original equipment to “recreate the record in its entirety” on stage, it’s set to hit Auckland’s Spark Arena on 28 November, Wellington’s TSB Arena on 29 November and our very own Horncastle Arena on 1 December.

“It’s like listening to the record but live,” Gray says.

Despite some big songs on there, Gray says White Ladder as a mellow, low-key album when it was first recorded and it has been “beefed up” in recent times for modern audiences.

The tour however, gave the band members the opportunity to honour the original sound.

“It was home recorded so we didn’t have the budget or means to make it sound big. It’s a mellow listen, but we’ve recreated the music for this tour. It’s really sweet to hear the songs the way they were then; it’s lovely to return them to their original.”

It’s the story of DIY success. “It was extraordinary how it happened,” Gray says.

“We weren’t blessed by big music companies, it was a word of mouth kind of success that came from nowhere. The music has stood up really well because we made it to be not like anything else and that still holds up today.

“It’s an incredible thing that happened and it’s a special record. Touch wood we’ll be with you at the end of the year, with big smiles on our faces!”


 

Keep the faith


It’s been 10 years since Faith No More last hit New Zealand, but that’s about to change with the five-piece Californian rock band set to head down south in May.

 

 

Bassist Bill Gould says the band – which is performing just seven arena shows across New Zealand and Australia – is well overdue for a proper Kiwi tour.

“Faith No More has taken many twists and turns over the years, and both Australia and New Zealand have been with us every step of the way; this is something that we have always appreciated,” Bill says.

“Nevertheless, we realise that it’s been 20 years since our last proper tour there. If we wait another 20, we’ll be in our 70s!”

Faith No More will kick off the New Zealand leg of their tour at Spark Arena in Auckland on 8 May, before performing at Horncastle Arena on Sunday, 10 May.

Faith No More’s pioneering, genre-defining career saw the band morph from cult underground heroes to boundary-pushing global chart-toppers, mixing metal to alt-rock to hip-hop to punk and much more, with hits such as Epic, Falling to Pieces, Ashes to Ashes, Easy, Midlife Crisis and Sunny Side Up.

The band is made up of Mike Bordin (drums), Roddy Bottum (keyboards), Billy Gould (bass), Jon Hudson (guitar) and Mike Patton (vocals).

They have released seven studio albums to date: We Care A Lot (1985), Introduce Yourself (1987), The Real Thing (1989), Angel Dust (1992), King For A Day… Fool For A Lifetime (1995), Album of the Year (1997) and Sol Invictus (2015).

Also performing at all shows is Melbourne band RVG, who’ll return in 2020 with the follow-up to the band’s critically acclaimed 2017 debut, A Quality of Mercy.

Lending their support following Australia’s bushfire crisis, Faith No More will be donating $1 (plus GST) from each ticket sold across the AU/NZ dates to Animals Australia, and state fire services in affected areas, including NSW Rural Fire Service, Country Fire Association VIC, SA Country Fire Service, Rural Fire Brigades Association QLD