Musos back and better than ever
REVIEW: The Classic Hits Acoustic Church Tour 09, Greg Johnson and Boh Runga, Nathan King, Lydia Cole, All Saints Church, Palmerston North, last night.
All Saints Church really is as beautiful as it looks on the outside – but last night's musicians would have blown any nativity scene out of the water.
Kiwi music stalwarts Boh Runga and Greg Johnson were joined by ex-Zed frontman Nathan King and younger songstress Lydia Cole for this gig, one of nine they are playing in churches around the country.
The idea harks back to 2003, after Runga played at London's Union Chapel and realised the acoustics of churches were perfect for musicians.
In 2004, her sister Bic toured New Zealand, with Boh and Johnson following suit this time. Both performers are based in Los Angeles, but the brief sojourn to New Zealand for this series of concerts was most certainly worth it. The pair have been working on an acoustic set especially for this tour, and the result was an eclectic selection of songs spanning both their careers.
Resplendent in a mini-tutu, skinny jeans and high, high stilettos, Runga was all long shiny hair and attitude as she belted out rock songs from her former band Stellar* , earnest as she sang lyrics from her new solo album, and sweet as she accompanied Johnson on his offerings.
She swapped from guitar to mandolin to percussion, including a set of gold, glittery drums, with practised ease.
In the high eaves of the church, every note in her voice rang clear.
Johnson was a strong presence, opening the first song with traditional organ chords and displaying his flawless musicianship on the keyboard, guitar and vocals.
In the downtime he was funny, buoying the audience along with snippets of his new Los Angeles life, witty observations and general banter that was at times wildly inappropriate for a church, really. The pair were accompanied during their set by established guitarists and vocalists Dave Goodison and Ben King, who rounded out their professional sound.
Earlier, a soulful Nathan King kept the night's congregation captivated with his harmonious guitar set.
The crowd were a mixed bunch, with middle-aged groups of women dispersed among hand-holding couples and a few younger fans.
And, judging by the number who were jostling out of their pews to get CDs signed at the end of the gig, they left happy.