Hard News by Russell Brown


Mint Chicks win everything

Or that's how it seemed, anyway. What might have been a parade of the usual suspects at the Music Awards last night turned out different, with the academy granting the Mint Chicks three awards, including Best Album, and Hollie Smith a further three. It made for a fun night.

There were, as Stuff's reporter gleefully discovered, goodie bags of sponsors' product draped over every seat in the auditorium, and also booster packs at the door, containing a bottle of Waiwera water, a can of V and a scarcely credible beverage called Smirnoff Premium Ice Double Black No. 118 with Guarana, which had an alcohol content of 7%.

In the interests of seeing what it is the kids are necking these days, I opened my can. It smelled like vomit. No, really. It smelled like vomit. It tasted like … well, I don't know what it tasted like. But it sure wasn't good.

There were better drinks in the media room, to which I gained entry with the first of a series of blags, during a less compelling section of the awards show. But mostly, it was well worth being in the audience, for the Mint Chicks playing, the excellent Johnny Devlin tribute by Jonny Toogood and the New Devils (which was, incidentally, the first chance Jon Toogood and Shayne Carter have had to share a stage) and even for Evermore, who performed Light Surrounding You with the assistance of a gospel choir. Special marks to Brooke Fraser for the good-humoured way she dealt with suggestions that she was, well, hot, and to Mike Hogdson and all for the video design -- again.

One thing no one was talking about -- but which I gather to be true -- is that the Mint Chicks are set to become a three-piece: the bass player isn't going with the rest of the bad to live in Portland, Oregon. I'm not sure how they'll go without a bass.

Back in the media room after the show, there was an amusing series of scrums around the winners, some of them involving Public Address Radio's team of Nigel McCulloch and Josh Thompson ("Terrible interviews," Nige cheerily informed me), and Paul Holmes in a white suit. Also of interest: the bloke from the Herald website editing the Herald's own video on the spot.

There was the usual noise and chaos at the after-party. Funniest moment: Peter Urlich carried his bespoke burger (top marks for a good range of soaking-up-the-booze food, BTW) into the toilets, and placed it on a shelf by the basins while he went about his business. As is so often the case, two young men decided to capture documentary footage of the star-burger with their mobile phones.

"Damn," came a grunt from the direction of the urinals. "I pitched that to Jeff Latch two months ago … "

Eventually Simon Pound and Abbie Rutledge grabbed me to dash over to Code, where Scribe was playing the after-after-party to a packed house, including an increasingly unhinged McColloch and Thompson. Additional blagging (in the door, up to the VIP bar on the mezzanine, a bright pink token for a free drink) ensued, and I stayed for some of an energetic set before jumping in a taxi to arrive home shortly before 2am.

I thought it was a good effort given that it was my second awards night in a row, follow the inaugural New Zealand Open Source Awards, which was fun in a different, hey-you-really-need-to-meet-this-person way. It was a great thing to be involved with and I think Don Christie, Chris Daish and the rest of the crew at Catalyst IT deserve bouquets for making it happen. They gave it effort, money and time, and it paid off.

Most interesting goss from Wellington was that the Copyright Amendment Bill, having been given the once-over-very-lightly by the Commerce select committee, isn't done with yet. There's a degree of concern at the highest levels that some of it doesn't make sense. Watch that space, for sure.

And, finally, a story I heard at the Music Awards …

In Auckland this week, a household of Maori musicians and artists and the like are being questioned by police officers over their potential connection to illegal activities that may or may not amount to terrorism. After half an hour or so it is apparent to the officer leading the questioning that these aren't the criminals he is looking.

So what, one of the guys asks, would you be doing today if you weren't here talking to us? Well," says the officer. "I do have two murders to investigate," and he turns and leaves the room.

I wonder if the cops in Taupo felt like they, too, had better things to do this week than confiscate $15,000 worth of computers from people whose connection to the real action (my view that there are matters of very legitimate concern for police hasn't changed) is pretty tenuous. Doing so with a ropey-looking warrant and then handing back the computers in a manner that suggested that their taking in the first place had been a bit pointless didn't help.

This isn't a government plot. It is not designed to facilitate the passage of the Terrorism Suppression Act amendment bill, which was already going to pass by a margin of 100 votes (indeed, the chief effect of this week's events has been to refocus attention on the amendment bill's considerable flaws). And I rather suspect that Labour is actually pretty much hating this. And I expect I'm not the only one wishing Ron Mark and Pita Sharples would both STFU and stop politicking until there are a few more facts to discuss.

With every additional intrusion, the police are raising the stakes for themselves. It seems clear that they have a great deal of evidence in hand, but some of their actions this week either that they're getting a bit desperate to find some key additional evidence, or that police command has overcooked this week's operation to a damaging extent.

PS: I have five copies of the smashing new Phoenix Foundation album, Happy Ending to give away to lucky Public Address readers. Just click the reply link to email me with the answer to this following question in the subject line: What kind of car features in the video for their song 'Bright Grey'?

PPS: I cannot advise on how you might go about obtaining it electronically -- iTunes NZ, as usual, is useless -- but I am loving Amy Winehouse's version of 'Cupid' from the Radio 1 Established 1967 anniversary album of cover versions. The fact that a skinny Jewish girl can lay a seamy soul vocal over a classic rocksteady beat and pull it off so authentically speaks to me of all the things I love about London.

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