Concert review: Kiwi legends' double act is heaven sent

By Russell Baillie

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Dobbyn and McGlashan complement each other superbly in Parnell leg of their Acoustic Church Tour.

Dave Dobbyn and Don McGlashan just got better as the night wore on.
Dave Dobbyn and Don McGlashan just got better as the night wore on.

This double-up of national treasures Dave Dobbyn and Don McGlashan marks the fifth year of this annual acoustic church tour, a chance for veteran acts to do the sit-down unplugged mix-it-up thing in venues which might inspire a hushed reverence in their respective flocks.

No, this isn't the night to heckle Dave to play Bliss, my son.

Dobbyn had taken it to the pews of the nation solo a few years ago. This time, with McGlashan, was a chance for the pair to bounce between their respective Great New Zealand Songbooks - both of which probably should come with fold-out maps given their shared sense of geography - and add some new elegant touches to the familiar.

The pair had made up the set list by naming their favourites among each other's songs.

Said McGlashan of the tour prep: "Learning one of Dave's songs is like meeting a long-lost family member who has lived a vivid parallel life to my own."

The result on this hometown third night of the tour was a gently enchanting show to a sold-out congregation at Parnell's Holy Trinity Cathedral, the venue making up for what it lacked in decent sightlines to the seated musicians with warmly cavernous acoustics.

It got better as it went along. The opening ballads of Dobbyn's Beside You and McGlashan's Andy felt a mite tentative, the latter suffering from too much acoustic 12-string lushness.

But with Dobbyn later mostly opting for electric guitar and the arrival of a rhythm section which included former Mutton Birds drummer Ross Burge, it soon gelled into musical tag-team magic.

Both men were content to accompany each other with harmonies and deft playing of multiple instruments rather than offer their own interpretations of each other's songs, but they still pulled out some surprises. Among them Dobbyn's Song of the Years, his setting of a James K. Baxter poem from the 2000 tribute album, was one of the night's most stirring moments as it closed the first half of the show.

There were others - a hymnal Anchor Me with McGlashan on piano played after Loyal, which came with Dobbyn's amusing introduction trying not to mention a certain sporting event. And there was the added entertainment value in both men's stage banter with Dobbyn's happy heartfelt rambles against McGlashan's self-deprecating wryness.

Yes, of course, it was preaching to the converted who responded with a standing ovation which won them a double encore. But this double-act in this setting acted as a fine reminder of just how special the songs and voices of each man remain.

Music review

What: Dave Dobbyn and Don McGlashan, Acoustic Church Tour
Where: Holy Trinity Cathedral, Parnell.

- NZ Herald

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