Hard News by Russell Brown


Lucinda Williams made me cry

You know how it is: you go through an intense, detailed week and you start to carry it around unresolved pieces of it in your head. Things you did, things you haven't done, things other people might do, images that don't fade. For the first two or three songs of Lucinda Williams' show at the Auckland Town Hall on Friday night, I think I still had the pieces crashing around.

Then she played 'Right In Time', the first song from Car Wheels on a Gravel Road (and one of many Songs About Particular Dudes to be rolled out through the evening) as a soaring FM rock ballad. I thought how long it was since I'd played myself that song, and suddenly I was thinking of nothing else but her performance. I felt an emotional release and my eyes welled with tears.

She'll do that to you, Lucinda.

My word, she's in fine voice at the moment. As she does on the Filmore live album, she initially warmed up her voice -- and then threw it gloriously open in 'Fruits of My Labour', as if she were singing an old Atlantic soul tune. She and her band played 'Little Rock Star' (my favourite from the latest album, Little Honey) in a way that any hip twentysomething indie band would envy. And then 'Essence', with its thicket of metaphors for love and addiction, as only she could.

But, to be honest, I was having trouble fully expressing my feeling for the music with my arse anchored to a flat little chair. Lucinda was plainly bemused by the fact that the last show of her tour was the only one to be all-seated ("Auckland rocks, huh?").

This was not, it must be said, a young crowd. I'm 46, and there were plenty of people older than me (including, it should be noted, the singer herself, who is looking fine at 55). And we (mostly) all sat there, our bums anchored, twitching urgently in position. I suggested to my darling (who, it turned out, had her wee blub during 'Blue') that we should make a break for the aisle on the far side. Yes, she said.

The relief was immense. I don't care how many old folks there were, you've got no business sitting on your arse during 'Honey Bee'. It's a rock 'n' roll show, for goodness sake. We were, I must say, in the minority. (But big ups to the big bloke in the blue shirt, who rocked out up in the Circle all night.)

"I don't care if I looked like a dick," my darling said as we walked away later, "I was there and Lucinda Williams was playing 'Real Living Bleeding Fingers'. I was going to dance, alright?"

Exactly. Lucinda told everyone she'd be back here soon, and I hope that's the case (and that she plays 'Ventura' next time). And if she does, I'm damned sure she won't be playing an all-seated room.


While the Fijian "freedom blogs" do the reporting the country's newspapers can't, there has been some lively debate locally. No Right Turn declares Chris Trotter and Gordon Campbell "supporters of despotism" for advancing some reservations about the Fiji Appeal Court's fateful decision.

Campbell copped it for this post in which he concluded that "By choosing to lash itself to the sorry likes of Laisinia Qarase, New Zealand has put itself on a collision course with Bainimarama from which there is now little prospect of escape." He follows up here.

I understand Campbell's argument, but I wonder how long we can dwell on the apparently laudable intentions with which Bainimarama seized power in 2006, over his bullying and destructive actions of the past week and a half.

And Trotter? I'm astonished. Quietly deleting your own posts when they don't suit your present argument doesn't work in the age of the Google cache, and advancing a rationale after you've been caught doing it doesn't help.

One of the pieces crashing around in my head last week was, at the end of the Media7 discussion about the Fijian media purge, Barbara Dreaver's eyes brimming with tears as she talked about her fears for her friends, young journalists working in the country's news media.

David Robie embeds the YouTube verson of that discussion and asks Tyrant or crusader against corrupt democracry?


In a column that doesn't appear to have taken very long to write, Deborah Hill Cone laments the "bitterness" of certain local bloggers. I think it's not so much the bitterness, as the extreme lameness. Is it just me, or does Whaleoil's embarrassing "Trophy Page" resemble a certain other, icky genre emitted by lonely men? Sorry. Just sayin' …


And I'd been holding on to this story just so I could write the headline We’ve run out of teenagers to sell iPods to.

But time's passing, so here it is anyway. You might be able to think of a product that enjoyed such utter dominance this far into a market, but I'm stumped.

The irony here, of course, is that the record companies helped engineer themselves into this position by insisting on DRM, which allowed Apple to tie the online store to the software to the device. It's a remarkable own goal.

Some good news: (American) teenagers are at least buying some music.

Asked in the survey, "Do you download from P2P (free) or purchase tracks?" 60% picked the former and 40% said they purchased tracks. But it's a dumb question: a third answer, "both", would have been closer to the mark.

Of those who buy music in any form, 71% bought online, and 23% at a retail store. 6% used the internet to order delivery of physical CDs.

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