Tour is Downunder therapy for Gibb

By Russell Baillie

Barry Gibb isn't worried by the state of his audience in New Zealand - he's seen it all before. Photo / Supplied
Barry Gibb isn't worried by the state of his audience in New Zealand - he's seen it all before. Photo / Supplied

Barry Gibb laughs. He doesn't care that his audience for his forthcoming Mission concert - part of his first tour as the sole surviving Bee Gee - will probably be there as much for a boozy good time as to hear a tribute to the group's vast pop legacy and his late brothers.

"We've played to every single kind of audience you can imagine," he told the Herald from his Miami home yesterday.

"So there isn't an audience that strikes any fear in our heart at all.

"We've worked in places where people were having fights and people were sitting down at tables because they couldn't get up.

"So once you've seen that, you've seen it all, mate."

But for the 66-year-old Gibb and backing band, which includes his guitarist-singer son Steven and singer niece Samantha, the tour which heads to the Hawkes Bay vineyard on February 23 after three Australian dates, is a kind of therapy.

After all, being the second most successful songwriter in pop history after Paul McCartney possibly means he doesn't really need the money.

It's the eldest Gibb's first tour since the death of Robin Gibb in May.

Maurice, Robin's twin, died in 2003 and the Gibbs' youngest brother, Andy, who was a solo pop star, died in 1988.

"I think it's something we need. I think it's therapy and reflection. I want to visit some of the places specifically where we grew up on the Queensland coast and just relive some moments. It's a sentimental journey."

He says there will be plenty of reminders about the family band's history, which started out in Australia, during the concert - and not just musical ones.

"This is a very visual show. It's not just all songs.

"There are collected movies and home footage that we have held on to all of our lives.

"It will be great for the audience to see Rob, to see Mo [Maurice] on the screen if nowhere else."

How will the songs sound without the trademark harmonies? There will be some changes.

"There are certain songs that Robin sang that we won't sing and there are surprises. This is a celebration of what we all did together and particular songs that everyone loves. I don't want to divulge what they all are because the curiosity factor is quite fun."

If he sounds in good spirits, Gibb also says it's been an emotionally tough time since Robin's death five months ago and that he's at the grieving stage of "acceptance".

"There was a lot of devastation. Losing all my brothers is a tremendous shock but if you step back it's a far greater shock for our mum. I look it at that way.

"It's a very difficult thing to deal with in any family. Being so close all of our lives, that's an extra element of it."

On the brighter side, he is looking forward to meeting his Mission gig support act, veteran American singer-songwriter Carole King, whose many 60s hits inspired his own songwriting.

"It makes me faint. She is one of the people who started me writing songs. It will be the first time I have ever come face to face with her. The songs she wrote are awesome and they started us writing songs."

As for that famous falsetto, he says it's in good nick after a few recent live workouts.

"I think my chops are good."

- NZ Herald

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