Johnson raises the church roof

BY JIM CHIPP - THE WELLINGTONIAN
Last updated 05:00 13/08/2009
Greg Johnson

LAID BACK: Singer-songwriter Greg Johnson will forsake Los Angeles' sunshine for an acoustic tour of his homeland.

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Songster Greg Johnson will return to Wellington for an acoustic concert at St John's in the City, bringing along his friend Boh Runga.

Former Zed front man Nathan King and Auckland singer-songwriter Lydia Cole will join them in the Classic Hits Church Tour.

These days Johnson, best known for Isabelle and Save Yourself, lives in Los Angeles, mainly spending his time songwriting, recording and pitching his music to film and television studios.

"For three or four years [in the US] we were all over the place, Boston, New York.

"I would much rather have a life and do songwriting, and have a wife," he said, speaking from Los Angeles.

"The industry has got to the point where it's been totally arse-ended and it's a completely different thing to what it used to be.

"I sort of prefer to be a bit of a studio hog these days and produce my own songs and others."

As well as playing each other's older material, Runga and Johnson have also written new songs for the tour and written The Other Girls together.

Johnson still plays concerts occasionally and recently performed at San Juan Capistrano, "a beautiful old mission. It was one of my best shows in the US 300 punters".

The acoustic church tour follows on from the successful one by Bic Runga two years ago, and Johnson expects it to be special. "Just being on stage with Boh, performing each other's songs, is a new thing for me, Boh being an old, old friend.

"Hopefully the old church will sound really beautiful."

Johnson and Runga met when they were recording at the same Auckland studio and have been friends ever since.

"She was playing electric guitar in my band and then went on to Stellar. We have remained friends."

Having lived in Los Angeles and had his music used in many Hollywood television and film productions, Johnson said he still loved to come back to New Zealand.

"You know, it's home still, really. You can't really change that. I actually enjoy coming back to New Zealand and I'm lucky enough to come back two or three times a year.

"I've got a different view of it these days, appreciate it more. It seems particularly beautiful in a way that it never used to.

"Particularly Wellington all the wooden houses and shops it's unique in the world."

The Acoustic Church Tour will be at St John's in the City, Willis Street on Tuesday, October 20.

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