Driving the Morrison blues
The Lizard Kings burst onto the Nelson music scene a year ago with Light My Fire, a tribute to great American rock band The Doors. The Nelson Winter Music Festival show sold out a month ahead of the performance - and before the group had even got on stage for the first time.
Never fear - The Lizard Kings delivered, a reviewer declaring that the night to be "a brilliant showcase" and any fan of The Doors "could not fail to be impressed".
Their popularity has continued in the 13 months since, as The Lizard Kings - Marcus Roebuck (harmonica and vocals), Glynn Olsen (guitar), Liam Ryan (organ and piano), Joe Tatley (drums) and Sahn Bishop (bass) - performed three more sold-out shows at the Nelson School of Music. They also appeared at the New Year's Eve party in Trafalgar St, headlined the Hokitika Wild Foods Festival, and played alongside soul-funk superstars Earth Wind & Fire and blues singer/songwriter Keb Mo at the National Jazz Festival in Tauranga.
Now they've developed a new incarnation, and will be at The Playhouse this weekend with "Waiting For the Sun", a dance-friendly set with stunning visuals, five new songs and plenty of their trademark passion.
The title is only partly expressive of the longing for the end of winter, Roebuck says.
"We've focused it on the danceroom, whereas with the last concerts we've focused it on the theatre setting. That was one thing we got as feedback from the theatre shows; there's a content of the crowd that just wanted to get up and do what their body was telling them to do."
As well as music, it will feature what Roebuck calls "a real twist"; new visual effects, including documentary footage, engineered by Klaasz Breukel.
"He's taking a different approach [from] what we've done in the past," Roebuck says. "[The visual effects] brings a connection from the past to the present, the live feed from us, and he has got futuristic effects he uses as well.
"It really enhances the fact that that's the connection to The Doors. We're putting the musical integrity behind it and really playing with passion, but he's connecting The Doors with us."
Roebuck has been into The Doors since he was a rabid boy fan in Timaru. He starting singing in bands when he was 20, including blues bands in the South Canterbury city, and is well known as lead singer in Nelson's popular blues band Boogie Train. Then Roebuck met Ryan, and The Lizard Kings was formed. A father of four and carpenter by day, Roebuck finds music a wonderful release.
"That's where music is for me, it's having a great time and sharing a great time for people to let their hair down. That's one of the most enjoyable things about The Doors show. There's so many fans around the country and they're totally appreciating the attention to detail we put into the music and the experience they're getting from it."
It's the tribute show that isn't - Roebuck says their efforts are better described as "a creative experience".
"I've listened to Jim Morrison day in, day out," he says. "I'm not trying to copy him - I'm just trying to respect him and his awesomeness."
- © Fairfax NZ News