Saturday, June 30, 2007

In grainy colour


These pictures were taken on a cellphone in the dim interior regions of K Rd's Wine Cellar last night, during a Bill Direen gig that lasted two hours and featured scores of songs in English, French, and German.

For me at least, the blurry, slightly mysterious look of the photos reflects a performance which moved suddenly yet carefully between songs that were written decades, and in some cases perhaps even centuries, apart. Whether he was reprising one of his Flying Nun classics from the early '80s, whispering his way through a chilly, brutally truncated version of Neil Young's 'Needle and the Damage Done', belting out an ancient Irish folk tune, showing off his impeccable French with a protest song written by a deserter during the Algerian war of independence, or setting the poetry of WH Auden to music, Bill was always in complete control of his material. The man is like a human jukebox, but where a jukebox plays by rote and moves from one track to another abruptly, at the whims of customers, Bill's digressions are organised by recurring themes and subtle melodic echoes, and his intepretations of old material manage to be both idiosyncratic and respectful.

If you didn't make it to the Cellar, don't despair - Bill's playing again on Monday, at the end of the Titus-Powertools Records bash. If you're living on the Chatham Islands and can't possibly make that event either, then visit Powertool and buy New York Sack, an album on which Bill plays an unplugged live set with a gang of exiled Kiwi musicians.
An honourable mention to the artist responsible for the Duchampian readymade in the Wine Cellar toilets, and to Muzzlehatch, who accompanied Bill on two songs with such fervour that he succumbed to sleep soon afterwards:

3 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Great gig! First time I've heard Bill live and it was so enjoyable. The selection and variety was excellent and vocals beautiful and nice to have an acoustic set too. Thanks Brett for great support on a couple of songs - brought some extra energy and ryhthm.

11:03 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Scott, a handsome toilet! I class the gig as one of the most memorable from (my) the performer's point of view. Though was not really aware of enjoying it at the time, except when joined by Muzzlehatch for Alligator and Darling, I remember the audience, the enthusiastic voice of Graeme Humphries coming out of the darkness, the row of young people who were following every word of the French songs, meeting up with old friends before and after, the ample spare stage and set, the sympathetic on-stage sound, the opportunity to play many songs that I have never recorded nor sung live before (a personal album of my singer-songwriter influences, which required tolerance from parties who preferred one influence to another -- no walkouts and only soft protest!), the fact that many music lovers were also interested in the written stuff, but above all that toilet! Cheers, Bill Direen

1:13 pm  
Blogger Richard Taylor said...

The toilet has echoes of Duchamp.

It is the most beautful object I havever ever seen.

Who is that strange person sleeping?

11:19 pm  

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