|Lorde and Joel Little. Photo:Topic photography|
The Apra Silver Scrolls were held last night at the Vector Arena, a departure from their usual venue, the Auckland Town Hall. They managed to squeeze in between One Direction and Beyonce, one presenter pointed out, which explains why it was on a Tuesday night.
The evening kicked off with an introduction from Apra's Anthony Healey, who mentioned the success of having a New Zealander at the top of the US charts for the first time. What a BIZARRE thing to say. HOW very BIZARRE. Maybe I misheard him.
The first of the cover versions of each of the finalists, as is Apra's tradition, was Rackets [watch] taking to Thames Soup by the Phoenix Foundation giving it a rough, noisy edge, but not really bringing anything new to the song.
The Sounz Contemporary Award went to Karlo Margetic for Lightbox, which was performed by the MPC Trio [watch], a delightfully leftfield combo of Jeremy Toy (She's So Rad), Lewis McCallum, and Johnnie Fleury. That was some out-there space rock.
Then we got to the induction for the latest NZ Music Hall of Fame recipient, Dave Dobbyn. Warren Maxwell delivered the speech, toasting Dave, his songs, and his life.
Maxwell talked about Dobbyn's place in our history saying that "Your Wikipedia bio is ingrained in New Zealand folklore." Maxwell talked of reading through Dobbyn's lyrics, and choosing a few of them to read out.
He recited Beside You (which won Dobbyn the Silver Scroll in 1998), and Lap Of The Gods, adding in a few asides to lines he particularly liked. Maxwell said of Dobbyn that "You are living the dream, of being a successful human."
Then there was a video presentation, of Dobbyn's musical friends and mates talking about him, like Chris Bourke talking about Loyal, saying even the America's Cup couldn't kill it - intercut with voxpops from people on the street, talking about his music and what it meant to them.
Dobbyn came up and accepted the honour, to a standing ovation. He worked thru his thank you list, chronologically, and said he'd thank the big guy at the end. He commented on the kind words said about him in the video, saying "It's like being at your own funeral, and you get to talk to everybody." He also said "To the record companies and labels, thank you. It's over!" And then he laughed.
The musical tributes to Dobbyn [watch] came from country singer Tami Neilson singing with harpist Weiting Shyu doing Language, a very sparse, spooky version; Mark Vanilau (who often plays in Dobbyns current band) with Scribe doing It Dawned On Me, which started with Scribe rapping, then joining in singing in beautiful harmonies with Vanilau, and totally nailing it - NZ Herald's Russell Baillie said "it was "one of the all time great #silverscrolls performances"; and the closer of this section was Shihad rocking out on Be Mine Tonight, an energetic photocopy of a rendition.
[The day after the awards, I saw someone on Twitter congratulate Scribe on his singing, suggesting the singing lessons had paid off. Scribe replied "I've never had singing lessons. I take it as a compliment! I hate singing. I did it for Dave Dobbyn! #TheMan". I also remembered later that Scribe sang on his debut The Crusader, like the hook on Dreaming, for example.]
The Maioha award was next, presented by Te Awanui Reeder. He talked a bit of the history of the award, and listed some Maori performers, from Tui Teka and Dalvanius, to Pieter T "and our favourite Maori, Lorde!" Then he got serious for a second and congratulated her on her success.
The finalists were Iwi, Maisey Rika, and Ngatapa Black. Maisey Rika, along with co-writers Te Kahautu Maxwell, and Mahuia Bridgeman-Cooper, won for their song Ruiamoko.
It was then performed by Tama Waipara [watch] with University of Auckland percussion ensemble and guests, which included Godfrey De Grut, who also acted as musical director for the evening. Cos doing that job wasn't enough for him. Super busy dude. Respect!
Apra board member Don McGlashan took the stage, and talked about the recently departed Dave McArtney, then shifted to congratulating Lorde, peering out into the crowd saying "I hope I'm looking at you - there's a lot of people here with big hair - I could be looking at Lorde, or Laughton Kora."
Later the MC for the evening, Dai Henwood, talked the house band into singing Happy Birthday for Jordan Luck, and everyone joined in. The house band onstage was a nice touch.
After a million years, someone other than Neil Finn won the award for most performed NZ work internationally. Brooke Fraser took this out (and also the prize for most played NZ song in NZ), and her manager, Campbell Smith, got up to accept it, saying "I spent the last two years drunk in Paris while this song did its work."
He said he felt like he was in a Trivial Pursuit question - Neil Finn won this award for 100 years, Ella (Lorde) and Joel will win it for the next 100 years -which song won it in between? Nice touch.
Anna Coddington's Bird In Hand got a big, beaty, bouncy treatment from Sola Rosa [watch], with Cherie Mathieson on vocals, killing it.
Royals got a suitably radical take [watch], starting with Lionel Reekie wandering onstage singing and playing accordion, then joined by splendid soul diva Bella Kalolo, and a young Asian beatboxer by the name of Phillip Fan. He even did a beatbox solo half way thu, then switched up the tempo and it went drum n bass for a second. Brilliant.
Tattletale Saints' Complicated Man got covered by Jesse Sheehan [watch] with Chip Matthews and Tom Broome, rocking it up in a brisk fashion.
And the last finalist, Aaradhna's Wake up, well how do you make a funky song even funkier? Get three drummers to perform it. That was just monstrous.
The drummers were Nick Gaffney, Scotty Pearson, and Katie Everingham [watch]. They were lit from behind in silhouette mostly, hammering away like they were auditioning for the Glitter Band (hat tip to Russell Baillie for that reference). Pounding good time.
I wanted Aaradhna to win the Silver Scroll, her song Wake Up is such a gorgeous pop tune, but Lorde and Joel Little took it out. Did the final voting process happen before or after the song started to take off? Who knows. But it is unlikely to slow down its trajectory any time soon.
The top five finalists were voted on by Apra's 10,000 members in August from a long list of 20 decided by a judging panel (all of whom are significant APRA writer member themselves) - voting started on July 25 and closed August 18, and that list of five finalists was announced on 12 September.
Lorde's speech [watch] was warm and goofy: "What's cool about this is I'm so new to this, and everyone has really accepted me, which is awesome." Then Joel had a brief natter, saying that it took him ten years to get on that stage, and Lorde did it in ten months. He also said to her "the scary part of it is you definitely haven't written your best song." The winner gets to keep the Silver Scroll trophy for 11 months, and a $5000 prize.
I observed Little doing an endless string of interviews in the media room before the event, with Lorde and manager standing 6 feet away, back to the media. I saw a journalist approach them and get rebuffed - Lorde is not doing any interviews tonight. And then at one point, Lorde turned around, pointed at Little and laughed, and then went back to her company. Watching her boy do all the work. Answering the same questions over and over, And people wonder why she doesn't want to do media.
Then we had the closing number. I heard a whisper about this a few weeks ago, and I couldn't really quite believe it was gonna happen. Hats off to whoever pulled this off.
The closing act was,... Sisters Underground, doing In The Neighbourhood, their big hit from 1994 [watch]. With a choir. It was so freaking rad. People jumping up and dancing all over the arena. And Greg Semu's video playing behind them, with scenes of South Auckland playing out. What a blinder of a finish.
This year and last year, I noticed a trend is starting to emerge - the calibre of the presentation and performances around the NZ Music Hall of Fame inductees seem to be so high now that they are overshadowing the awards, to a certain extent.
This is also happening with the NZ Music Awards - see the level of excitement generated around Toy Love's induction last year. It's a fascinating problem to have. The outcome may be that it makes everyone raise their game across other areas of the awards, to meet this. And that can only be a good thing.
Review: The Corner's Gareth Shute on the night, with video
Public Address - Russell Brown on the Silver Scrolls
ADDED MC for the evening Dai Henwood, filled in some time mid-show by asking the house band to improvise some music based on his random descriptions, watch house and member Sam Allen's video here.
Via NZ Herald - Dave Dobbyn's induction, in full, below...
WATCH: Royals by Lorde,covered by Lionel Reekie, Bella Kalolo and Phillip Fan
WATCH: Bird in the hand by Anna Coddington,covered by Sola Rosa w Cherie Mathieson
WATCH: Wake up,by Aaradhna, covered by Nick Gaffney, Scotty Pearson and Katie Everingham
WATCH: Sisters Underground perform In the neighbourhood