Acoustic Church: Dave Dobbyn and Don McGlashan
Old St Paul's, Wellington, October 1
Reviewed by Simon Sweetman
Though the Acoustic Church branding remains a misnomer, Dave Dobbyn played electric guitar for most of the night and this was certainly a wonderful gig. It was something special. The idea of "acoustic" as issuing reverence, denoting some air of authenticity that allows casual music fans to enjoy serious songwriters is almost creepy. It is certainly calculated but, strange/false branding aside, Dobbyn and Don McGlashan worked so well together working through each other's songbooks.
Best of all this was not just a hits set. The cherry-picking did offer some of the anthems from Dobbyn (Whaling, Loyal) and McGlashan too (Anchor Me), but more often this was about exploring the nooks and crannies within their careers and finding – of course – more wonderful songs, including some rare gems.
McGlashan performed his Front Lawn song, Andy; a rare outing for the heartbreaking ballad. Dobbyn offered James K Baxter's Song of the Years, lyrics he put to music for the Baxter tribute album more than a decade ago.
The banter between the two musicians was superb and light-hearted, but it always added, rather than distracted.
The evening also served to remind that Dobbyn is a wonderful guitarist – so skilled as an accompanist – and McGlashan effortlessly swapped instruments to add textures. Perhaps it's because both know the heart of a good song is key, they know not to block the arteries. They're sensitive to a song's needs. We also found they weren't just friends but fans of each other's work.
As the evening played out the songs started to talk to one another. You could imagine McGlashan's White Valiant hugging the road in Dobbyn's Blindman's Bend and Don's Toy Factory Fire, a form of protest/political song, just as Dave's Maybe The Rain grinds an axe.
Perhaps the biggest surprise in a night of wonderful music is that Dobbyn and McGlashan had not paired up for this sort of show before. It seemed so natural; so perfect.
- The Dominion Post