Hard News by Russell Brown


Conscious Party

It is unusual that the mere viewing of television should detain Helen Clark, but that was surely the cause of three successive delays in her arrival at the APRA Silver Scroll Awards last night. She was watching her foreign minister bid for his political life, live like judicial sport.

Eventually, she arrived, smiling, and took her seat during the awards' traditional period of meditation. It was hard not to wonder what was going through her head, but I hope she was able to enjoy the entertainment, because it was tremendous.

The evening began with a moving musical tribute to the late Mahinarangi Tocker. One of our regulars here, Jackie Clark, was Mahinarangi's friend and sister in law, and she can be assured that the spirit of that tribute flowed through the evening.

The Scrolls format is that each of the five finalists for the song of the year is performed by another act. King Kapisi's take on Elemenop's 'Baby Let's Go' was pretty good and it got better from there. Bachelorette's performance of the Phoenix Foundation's 'Bright Grey' -- solo, spotlit at the foot of the Town Hall's giant pipe organ -- was brilliantly gutsy. I was half-dreading Little Bushman's performance of Liam Finn's 'Gather to the Chapel', but when they swelled it up into a lurching soul groove, it was remarkable too.

And then the Sami Sisters came on to play OpShop's 'One Day', charmed everyone in the room and departed laughing and high-fiving. It was wicked. And Madeleine Sami looks hot with an electric guitar. Voom than made Anika Moa's 'Dreams in My Head' sound like it had always been a Voom song. They should add it to their repertoire.

'One Day', as you might have guessed, took out the prize and even though it's still the only one in the lineup that I couldn't hum you, it's fair recognition of a song that reached a lot of people in the past year.

In the course of the same evening, the Topp Twins were inducted into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame, then paid musical tribute by Reb Fountain and Johnny Barker; Richard Thorne, editor of New Zealand Musician was surprised and moved to be honoured for his magazine's service; improv drummer Chris O'Connor performed a spooky piece; and -- oh wow -- Martin Phillipps and the Chills rounded out the evening with a performance of 'Heavenly Pop Hit' -- with choir, bellringers and pipe organist. I was crossing my fingers at the beginning but Martin got to his Brian Wilson place and earned the last of the evening's standing ovations.

I think it was the best Silver Scrolls programme I've seen. Don McGlashan's debut as musical director was a notable one indeed. And as ever, I felt like I was with my people for the evening. It's a pleasure and a privilege to come to this party every year.

Watch it when it's on C4.

Other bits and pieces from the evening …

Vodafone will launch a subscription music service next week -- and another music service that it'd be breaking a confidence to tell you about.

Where were the Nats? Couldn't they have sent one member along?

The Trons, the self-playing robot band from Hamilton, have returned from a corporate gig in Paris with Daft Punk. [Correction: I've spoken to someone who'd spoken to Greg Locke from the Trons, who'd heard about the Daft Punk thing too. Amusingly, it's news to him. But, the Trons have in fact been invited to Paris to play a Mercedes corporate do -- which is brilliant. The original version of this story should stand as a demonstration of the perils of getting your news tips from pissed people.]

Seymour Stein was in the country recently to audition a local act. His condition was coming was that a private pub gig be staged for him, and him alone.

Peter Garrett, here in his arts minister's capacity, was cool -- even when the guy from the Rainy Days ranted incomprehensibly to him and threatened to fall on his table.

Real Groove general manager Steve Richards has bought the magazine from the rest of the Real Groovy business and is looking to do new things with it.

A Topp Twins documentary film has been produced and will debut early next year.

Damian Christie was a danger to shipping.

And don't try and book a hall for Saturday, November 8. I heard tell of a certain young band trying to do that this week and having no luck at all, one venue after another. That lends weight to my view that that will be the date of the general election.


This week's Media7 looked at the present state and future prospects of the music business, with the legendary Peter Jenner, Morgan Donoghue from Vodafone Music, and lawyer and Amplifier founder Chris Hocquard. I think you'll find it interesting.

It's available for viewing on TVNZ ondemand, as Windows Media clips, in a podcast and on our YouTube channel.

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